From the Pastor: Aunt Irma Gets Blessed!
My Aunt Irma is a hoot. She is willing to do what others just dream of doing. Or wouldn’t ever dream of doing. Nonetheless, she is willing to go through with things others sometimes only wish that somebody would do. This Christmas she was telling us all about her latest plans and, I must admit, what she is doing is being as wise as a serpent while being as simple as a dove. Aunt Irma is courageously combating evil where others much stronger and seemingly capable than her, out of fear, fail to tread.
She got her latest idea from Fiducia Supplicans, a document recently published by the Vatican’s expert on kissing. Aunt Irma claims to be a Latin scholar and she translated the title thusly: “'Supplicans' gives us the English 'suppliants' or 'beggars,' and 'Fiducia' is the Latin root for the once-popular dog name, 'Fido.' So a rough translation is 'Begging like a dog.'” She also provided a more vulgar translation, one that those in the know can smugly laugh about at their next “Guess My Pronouns” party and so will not be given here. After droning on for something like 4000 words about what a “blessing” is, the document finally got around to stating its true purpose, which is to give the green light to priests and bishops who pretend that God is pleased with the intimate relations of men/men and women/women whose activities used to be relegated to red light districts. Aunt Irma said that as she was reading it she was astounded by how it contradicted itself so blatantly about how “individuals” are often rightly blessed without demanding to know the status of their morality but then turned around and insisted that “couples” could/should be blessed even if it is known (no prying necessary) that they are living in “irregular” relationships. Of course, she recognized that that was only a pretext for the next logical step taken by the document and the reason it was written in the first place, the blessing, no questions asked or admitted, of unrepentant openly homosexual couples (not individuals). None of that surprised her but it did disappoint her. But when her Bishop came out with a wishy-washy non-commital defense of the document, one obviously written in hopes that he could edify his many “gay” priests and fellow bishops and not get himself “Stricklandized” by Rome, while trying to gaslight his faithful Catholic priests and people into thinking that if they just read the document as he had, they, too, would see that it doesn’t say what it says or mean what it means, she had enough. She immediately conceived her new mission: to show her Shepherd the ramifications of opening up a can of worms by allowing the blessing of evil.
The first thing she did was to send her Bishop an edited version of a story found in the 14th chapter of Saint Matthew’s Gospel, re-rewritten in light of (or in the darkness of) Fiducia Supplicans.
At that time Herod the Tetrarch heard the fame of Jesus. And he said to his servants: I hope this is another John the Baptist: and therefore mighty works won’t shew forth themselves in him. For Herod had rewarded John and bought him off, and put him into a position of power, because of Herodias, his brother’s wife. For John said to him: It is not lawful for thee to have her. But hey, man, what the heck. Let me give you two a blessing! And having a mind to put him in the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, he synoded the people: because they esteemed him as a prophet. But on Herod’s birthday, the daughter of Herodias danced before them: and pleased Herod. Whereupon he promised with an oath, to give her whatsoever she would ask of him. But she being instructed before by her mother, said: Give my incestuous, erotic dancing the blessing of John the Baptist. And the king was struck giddy because of his oath, and he salivated with them that sat with him at table; he commanded it to be given. And he sent for John, who was entertaining a certain American Jesuit priest in the Praetorium. And his blessing was dished up like a sumptuous dessert: and it was given to the damsel, and she brought it to her mother. And a New York TImes photographer just happened to be there to capture the whole thing and silence the naysayers.
Of course, this was just the beginning. Next, she brought a beautiful Nativity Collection to the Cathedral so that the Bishop could bless it. This Fontanini set was quite stunning, except that the figures of Mary and Joseph had been replaced by two Pachamamas. When he saw that he was being photographed by an NYT reporter and hesitated to impart his blessing, she whipped out a leather-bound copy of his response to Fiducia Supplicans and asked him what the problem was. He quickly gave his non-liturgical blessing. A few days later, she showed up at the chancery with two of her lady friends, each wearing identical wedding dresses and sporting shiny, new rings. The thruple received a blessing in front of a limo with a “Just Married, Married, Married” sign. The ever-present Times photographer was also there because this was almost certainly as non-scandalous and spontaneous a request as could possibly be made.
She plans to keep upping the ante by asking for blessings upon ever more disgusting “irregular” unions until the Bishop finally cracks. How long will it take before her Bishop issues a retraction of his initial response and speaks out against this latest divisive document? Stay tuned. And watch for news stories about an old woman with a tuxedo-wearing goat...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Merry Christmas Vigil
This weekend’s bulletin will be available on the last day of Advent. Since Christmas falls on Monday this year, the rubrics of the 1962 liturgical calendar state that the Vigil of Christmas takes the place of the 4th Sunday of Advent. But the 1970 calendar says that it remains the 4th Sunday of Advent because it changed the definition of what a “vigil” is. I have already written more about that at other times but I wanted to put it in again for the sake of any visitors we may have who are confused about which Mass is being celebrated this weekend. The back-to-back Sunday/Christmas days also mean that we can finally decorate the Church for Christmas. Many of the new parishioners and visitors wonder why we have a Nativity scene out front all year but then no Christmas trees and blinking lights like everyone else has had since the weekend after Thanksgiving. The answer is quite simple. Advent is Advent and Christmas is Christmas. Combining them would be like hiding Easter eggs and eating jelly beans and chocolates all through Lent, celebrating Easter during those penitential Lenten days. Soon enough, there would be no distinction between the two, and the penances of Lent would disappear. Properly done, during Lent you practice the mortifications of fast and abstinence, and you don’t feast until Easter. The same is supposed to be done for these two related but distinct seasons, keeping the season of Advent as a time of preparation and the Christmas season (not just one day) as the time of celebration. But we have seen it morph into one big Christmas celebration and then the entire Christmas season is abandoned as the tree hits the curb on December 26. In the “old days,” Advent used to include daily fasting and Friday abstinence similar to Lent. By the 1962 calendar fasting was reduced to the three Ember Days of the third week, with partial abstinence on Ember Wednesday and Saturday, and full abstinence on all Fridays. The 1970 calendar, as the final nails in the coffin, removed the Ember Days and even abrogated the necessity to abstain from meat on Fridays (another penance of one’s choosing sufficing to replace it). Rather than lose this distinction completely, we try to keep to the tradition, as much as possible, anyway, of keeping Advent pretty low-key and then sprucing (a Christmas tree pun) everything up once Christmas finally comes. We do have to cheat a little on this, however, as getting enough volunteers to decorate the social hall and church on Sunday night just before Christmas Midnight Mass would be quite a challenge. This is a good time to note that if any of you wish to string thousands of lights outside the church in addition to the towering lighted Christmas tree (you might not have noticed it during the daytime but it is there) please feel free to volunteer and we will procure the lights for you. If you can find another huge, inflatable dinosaur with a wrapped gift in his mouth, feel free to bring him in, too, for I sure do miss that big guy! (That’s a joke. Please don’t bring him back!)
As for the relatively new Nativity scene (one year ago last October it was installed just in time for Cardinal Burke’s visit) that we keep out front all year, it is not a Nativity scene at all. This is Epiphany of Our Lord parish and that is an Epiphany scene. Notice the Three Kings! If this was St. Denis parish and we had a large statue of a Bishop holding his severed, mitered head in his hands, nobody would ask us if we were decorating for Halloween all year! Well, yes they would, unless they knew the story of St. Denis. But even though people know the story of Epiphany they still don’t make the connection. By the way, if you ever find a nice marble statue of St. Denis, I would be happy to find a place for him somewhere on our grounds!
With that out of the way, Merry Christmas everyone! Whew! I thought I would run out of space before I got around to writing those words. Very early Monday morning (midnight, in the old calendar anyway) we begin the Christmas season. But on Tuesday the first non-Christmas Mass of the season is for a martyr. What gives with that? Why are Catholics celebrating the Birth of Jesus with the death of St. Stephen? He was murdered in hatred of Our Lord. Two days later we celebrate the feast of the Holy Innocents. Those poor babies died when Herod was trying to kill Jesus. We can’t celebrate death, not of a mere man and especially not of innocent babies, can we? Yes, we can and do and should! The Deacon Stephen was the first recorded man who was killed for the Faith. The Holy Innocents were killed for the Faith when Jesus was still a babe. Yet those holy deaths are not to be ignored, swept aside, or even mourned, although the grief would have been profound when these atrocities first occurred. Now we see them as Merry (to use the word of the season) beginnings of new life! We are supposed to be like Jesus in all things, not just the things that are “pleasant” in this world. We are to long to imitate Him more perfectly every day. More prayerful. More loving. More compassionate. If we live like Him we will even lovingly die for Him as the martyrs did and resurrect like Him and be with Him in Heaven! That is what he came for, after all, isn’t it? Don’t miss the meaning of the Christmas Season! It goes far beyond just buying, giving, and receiving toys.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: No Scant Christmas Worship!
Christmas fell on a Monday in 2017, just as it does this year. That year we had the same Mass schedule for both the English Novus Ordo Mass and the Traditional Latin Masses, although with two extra Vietnamese Novus Ordo Masses as well. Now that the St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission has become a parish of its own, complete with its own property and church building, we no longer have two groups “competing” for space on these Holy Days. Thanks be to God, and I don’t mean that in any negative way whatsoever. We both outgrew these accommodations. But, while some things change, others don’t. Such is the case with people trying to attend Sunday evening’s Mass >>only<< and having it “count” as a fulfillment of both the Sunday and Christmas obligation! Thanks be to God again that we don’t have such minimalistic-minded people at this parish (or, if we do, may they read this article and change!).
Such people are truly to be pitied, but it is our own Church leaders, in instituting the novelty of an “anticipated” Sunday Mass on Saturday evening, who shoulder much of the blame. Even if they didn’t see it coming, they are most certainly aware after 50 years that the vigil Masses have encouraged a mentality of “Let’s get our obligation to God out of the way so that we don’t have to pray on Sunday.” People usually won’t state it quite like that but they have no problem proclaiming that they prefer the vigil Mass over Sunday Masses because they can go out to eat on Saturday night. They also don’t mind complaining to the priest that if the vigil is not early enough (or if the homily is too long) they have to wait too long in line at their favorite restaurant. I am happy to say that I have never heard any of the parishioners at our vigil speak such nonsense. I credit the priests who came before me and those who normally celebrate that Mass now, for they must all have done and continue to do a great job teaching that the main purpose of the Mass is to worship God as He wishes us to worship, not just to punch the time clock, so to speak. That being said, I have already had multiple people “out in the wild” ask me about the possibility of killing two birds with one stone by attending only their Christmas Eve or early Midnight Mass (oh, the horrors of Midnight Mass being celebrated at either 8:00 pm or 10:00 pm on Christmas Eve!) and having it “count” for both the Sunday and Christmas Mass obligations. Oh, my! How sad it is to hear people trying to get by with minimal effort in worshipping Our Lord, especially on one of the holiest days of the year! “Yay!” I can almost hear them exclaim, “We outwitted God and only had to go to Mass once this week while sleeping in on both Sunday and Christmas. Plus, we fooled the pastor and only had to put one crumpled-up dollar bill into a single collection, not two! Woo Hoo! We are the smartest damned Catholics in the world!” Yep. Damned smart Catholics, if you get my drift. Not that I am so goshdurn holy that I don’t get by with just the minimum (or less) expected of me at times, too, but sheesh, on Christmas? I bet they have a blow-up Grinch in their front yard instead of a Nativity Scene, too.
Getting back to how this article started out, the Mass schedule, with the exception of the missing Vietnamese Masses, will be the same this year as it was in 2017 for December 24 and 25th and January 1, which, once again, is not a Holy Day of Obligation because our US Bishops decided that making people attend Mass two days in a row was tooooo haaarrrd on the people. That does, at least, help explain why they haven’t pressed to suppress the “anticipated” Sunday Mass (the Saturday evening Vigil and Masses the evening before Holy Days). We will have a Novus Ordo vigil Mass at 5:00 pm on December 23 which is the Mass for the 4th Sunday of Advent on the Novus Ordo calendar; another on the 24th at 5:00 pm, which is the Christmas Vigil Mass and fulfills one’s Christmas obligation. I am working toward full compliance with the Vatican directive that I not publicize the Traditional Latin Mass times in the bulletin, online, or by any other media, which I write as a preface to telling you that something—a “something” that I cannot write about—will happen in the church at the normal Sunday times of 7:30 am and 10:30 am on December 24, either of which will fulfill your Sunday obligation for the old-fashioned Vigil of Christmas as it used to be known, and which supersedes the 4th Sunday of Advent in the liturgical calendar which must not be mentioned from 1962. A first Christmas something will begin at Midnight as December 24 changes to December 25; a second Christmas something will be said silently in the church at 7:30 am on December 25; yet a third Christmas something will be accompanied by the choir at 10:30 am later that morning; any or all three of which will satisfy your obligation to properly worship God on Christmas, though I must leave it to your imaginations as to how that could possibly occur. Please note that there will be no confessions heard after any of the Christmas somethings.
The following weekend Mass schedule is as normal, as is the schedule for Monday, January 1st since it is not a Holy Day of Obligation.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Farcebook Needs My Passport!?!?
It has been several months since I logged onto my farcebook account. I know that many of you reading this may be astounded that anyone could survive without such a popular social media platform for such a lonnnnggggg period of time (and it’s not even being done as a Lenten penance!) but I was all too happy to just ignore it and see if somehow the world would continue as normal. Well, looking at what is going on in the world since I stopped posting or reading others’ posts, you might be able to make a case that my ignoring of FB really did cause incalculable problems! Regardless of the cause/effect of my absence, two weeks ago somebody texted me a FB link, insisting that it was worth my time to read, so I clicked. FB refused to open the post unless I signed in. So I tried signing in. My sign-in was rejected. Was my password entered incorrectly? No. Was my sign-in name wrong? No. Everything was correct but FB insisted that, for my safety and security, and to guarantee that it was actually me signing in, I had to send them a copy of my passport, driver's license, birth certificate, social security number, and umbilical cord blood from my firstborn child. Or something like that. I thought that for sure I had been spoofed, that this notice was not really from FB and that somebody, either a prankster or a gangster, thought that I was stupid enough to send such information to them. I opened a “private tab” and tried going directly to FB. I got the same message of strange demands. I tried another browser. Same thing. I tried changing my VPN to another location. I received the same strange message yet again. So I googled “passport for FB sign-in scam” and discovered that it was neither a new thing nor a scam—unless you count Farcebook as the scammer! For years, it has demanded of some people at some time that they send copies of their identification cards, certificates, etc., to them in order to use—or to be used by—FB. I am going to copy and paste (although removing the formatting and italicizing it) from FB’s “help” pages to show you the audacity of FB.
Types of IDs that Facebook accepts
If you need to confirm your name on Facebook, or if you've lost access to your account, you may be asked to send us a copy of something with your name on it. You have several different options for this, including photo IDs issued by the government, IDs from non-government organizations, official certificates or licenses that include your name or other physical items like a magazine subscription or a piece of mail...(It was the government-issued photo ID that they wanted from me.) You can also learn more about what happens to your ID after you send it to Facebook.
Don't digitally conceal ID information
To help us prevent fake IDs and other abuses, we don't accept photos that have been digitally modified to hide information. You can also physically cover any non-essential information on your ID, before you take a photo of the document.
You can send us 1 government ID to confirm your name or regain access to your account.
Anything that you send us should contain either: Your name and date of birth, or Your name and a photo.
Some examples of government IDs we accept include: (my bold color here, as this is what they were demanding of me) Driver’s license; National identity card; Passport; Birth certificate
There was much more information to be found on that page and on others it linked to. For instance, this:
What happens to your ID after you send it to Facebook
After you send us a copy of your ID, it'll be encrypted and stored securely. Your ID won't be visible on your profile, to friends or to other people on Facebook...
Notice that I can send my passport totally unencrypted (that is, open to bad guys stealing that information) at which time they will encrypt it (thanks) and store it securely. Read that again. They will store it. For how long? For what purpose? My ID won’t be visible to my “friends or other people on Facebook” but it will be accessible to FB! Will it, like all other information that they get from me, be sold to all bidders?
I am writing this, not because it has anything to do directly with Epiphany or the Church but just as a means of showing how far this social media giant has pushed the envelope as they convince people to give up even the most “valuable” of information to a company that does nothing essential for life, either in this world or the next. Would you continue going to church if I demanded a copy of your passport which I refuse to assure you will not be used for marketing or other thievery? The Church is necessary for salvation, FB is not. Would you continue to buy groceries at a market that demands such ID? Food is necessary for physical life. People must think that FB is even more important or they wouldn’t give up such information.
Needless to say, I didn’t send my ID.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Special December Masses, Feasts, and Traditions
Friday, December 8, is a Holy Day of Obligation, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Holy Days” such as this, if you are old enough to remember, used to be joyfully held in reverence and awe, at least as far as I can tell from old liturgical accounts of them. The Catholics of old actually liked having occasional days off of work or school so that they could attend Mass on such special feast days. Traditions grew around these liturgical celebrations so that novenas, litanies, processions, and even special foods were cooked and eaten specifically for the special celebration. Unfortunately for us, it seems that few want to ask for even a couple of hours off of work to attend a Mass of Obligation during the week. HR departments and school admins simply scoff at the notion that a Catholic religious celebration deserves any respect. Thus the US Bishops have acquiesced to the times and either canceled most Holy Days or transferred them to Sundays so as to not inconvenience anyone who worships secularism more than Catholicism. Even so, December still brings us two Holy Days of Obligation, the first being the aforementioned Immaculate Conception on the 8th and the second being Christmas on December 25. So mark your calendars and prepare to show that your Catholic Faith is alive and well. Take those days off so that you can enter more deeply into the Traditional Catholic way of life!
While marking your calendar, you may want to put a special mark on the second Saturday from now, December 16. Please cross the 8:00 am Mass off your calendar and insert a 6:30 am Mass instead. This is our annual Rorate Caeli Mass and it, of its very essence, requires an early morning start. Since there are many new parishioners who may not be aware of this Mass, a short explanation is in order. The Advent Rorate Masses are celebrated in darkness, with only candlelight to illuminate the church. As the Mass continues, the daylight grows stronger, as if the signified Light of the World, Jesus Christ, is finally dawning upon us. The Savior is bud forth in the East (or Orient, which, as an aside, is why the term Ad Orientem—to the East—is used when the priest faces East—or at least liturgical East as at Epiphany—along with the congregation, as all are looking expectantly to the Orient for the return of Our Lord in His Majestic Glory), the land is blessed, and the Catholics are set free from the dark captivity of sin. Jesus came to save us from sin, to bring light to those in darkness and the shadow of death. He came through, and is magnified by, the Blessed Virgin Mary, without whom we would find no Savior, and merit no salvation. There may be several reasons to sleep in that morning, but if you make the effort to attend this glorious candlelight Mass, I think you will be hooked and make it a yearly event. Did I mention that there will be food after Mass?
You might think that what has already been mentioned is enough for one article. Yet, there is more. Again, for those new to the parish, unless you came from a Polish, Slovak, or Lithuanian family, you may not be aware of an old Christmas Eve tradition of prayer, thanksgiving, and forgiveness entailing the sharing of the Oplatek. An oplatek (plural: oplatki) is an unleavened and very thin rectangular bread, usually embossed with some sort of Nativity-related scene. It is made the same way that traditional Mass hosts are, using only wheat flour and water (although some may contain a small amount of food dye to color them). They are never consecrated, although they may be blessed by the priest, as ours will be. These are meant to be taken home for the Wigilia, or Christmas Eve gathering of the family. Although details of this custom do vary, the basic format remains constant. On Christmas Eve the entire family gathers for a full day of celebrating the end of the penitential season of Advent and the coming of the Christ Child in just a few more hours. This used to be a day of abstinence (though not a day of fasting), so the great evening feast, which consisted of many courses (7, 9, and 13 are listed in various sources but my older sister insists that there must be 12 courses, and she is a better source than most of my other sources!), was completely meatless. Appetizers, soups, fish dishes, and desserts were prepared. The table was strewn with a light layer of straw (reminiscent of the straw lining the baby Jesus’ manger) and covered with a white tablecloth (swaddling clothes). There were place settings for everyone plus one extra in case a beggar or unexpected guest came by. But before anyone dared to touch the food, the father of the family would take an oplatek, break it and share a piece of it with his wife. As he gave it to her he would ask her forgiveness for any harms he had done to her during the past year and ask special blessings for her in the upcoming one. She would then break off another piece from her piece of the oplatek and share it with the child next to her, and do the same. From one to another, each would follow suit. Only after the oplatki pieces were all distributed and consumed was the main meal eaten. (This is, of course, just a short version. Ask your babcia for more details!)
By next week I should have the oplatki ready for you to take home in preparation for Christmas Eve. Oh, how fast time flies!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka