He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Thank You! And More...
Fr. Dorvil and I wish to thank you for your generosity towards his Haitian Mission. The last count I saw was approximately $6000, although I expect that several more people who didn’t bring “extra” donation money with them last week will add to that amount this week. Helping missions so close to home not only allows us to give to those in need but also, especially in this case since Fr. Dorvil lives here, allows for a real relationship to grow for those who wish to pursue further involvement in the mission. By the way, because the diocese sets up these mission co-op appeals, all of the money collected goes to the diocese to be distributed to the particular mission for which it was collected rather than going to the one making the appeal. They record the amount raised and give 100% of it to the mission. (In this case, they will send the check—made out to “Immaculate Conception Haitian Mission—to Fr. Dorvil himself, since he is the one in charge of the mission, but it is often the case that the one preaching is not the one in charge.) The diocese then knows that the mission was completed and the mission preacher doesn’t have to carry large sums of cash and checks with him as he travels back home. They also use this information to try to figure out which parish to send each missionary to next year. Some parishes are able/willing to give large amounts and some only small amounts. Each mission has varying needs, too, so they get matched up as best as possible. Please say a prayer for those responsible for making such choices, for that sure is a difficult task!
On a different topic, this past Tuesday a big van towing a flatbed trailer pulled up in our parking lot with a delivery for the parish. I don’t know if you have ever thought about it but, although our parish is named “Epiphany of Our Lord” we don’t have anything other than a sign to indicate the biblical Epiphany event. The delivery van changed that. Filling the van and spilling out onto the trailer was a large Nativity set. Three of the figures in the Nativity set, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar, are the Three Kings or Wise Men, or Magi, depending on which Bible translation you read or song you sing. It is, of course, on the Feast of Epiphany, January 6, that they arrived and worshipped the Divine Infant, bringing with them gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. My plan is to set up this Nativity/Epiphany set on the grounds in a place of honor and leave it there all year round. “But Father!” I can already hear you saying inside of your head, “Plastic, wood, and even fiberglass are no match for the Florida sun! It will rot away in no time!” Yes, that is true. And most of the nativity sets out there are made out of one of those materials. But there are other alternatives! Maybe this one is made of pure, Carrara marble, lovingly hewn from the Italian mountains and hand-chiseled by the Benedictine Monks of Norcia in the free time they have between making their famous beer and rebuilding their monastery which was destroyed several years ago by an earthquake. Or maybe this one is made out of solid granite and rivals the size of Mount Rushmore, or, a bit closer to home, Stone Mountain, Georgia. Or maybe this set is made in Mexico of cast aluminum, finished and painted in Florida, and able to withstand the Florida weather about the same as your car does, which is to say, not without deterioration, but not too bad, either. And quite a bit cheaper than the other two “maybes” I just mentioned.
The Epiphany set is not quite life-sized, for, after all, camels are pretty large, but it is pretty big. We are currently working on a plan to mount the pieces in such a way as to keep them from walking off after determining just exactly where to put them. They are too large and heavy to move around easily but you never know when one of more pieces of such sets might just decide to go on a journey when nobody is looking! I’m guessing that we won’t have them out before Cardinal Burke gets here, but I have guessed wrong before.
Speaking of Cardinal Burke’s arrival, the day he comes, Sunday, October 30, is the Feast of Christ the King on the 1962 liturgical calendar. (The Three Kings of Epiphany adoring the Infant Jesus, the King of Kings, would be a nice touch outside, now that I think of it.) We will have the regularly scheduled 7:30 Mass for all of you who either don’t want to fight the 10:30 Mass crowd or who are going to be doing all of the needed grunt work during that Mass. We will have to clear everyone out of the church as soon as Mass is done so that we can set up both the church and hall as needed for the Cardinal to celebrate the Pontifical High Mass. There will be no confessions heard that day, nor items blessed, and no, you cannot just stay in your pew trying to assure yourself of getting a seat for the next Mass! Even if nobody from outside of the parish attends the Big Mass (which is very unlikely), we won’t all fit into the church and hall. Bring your lawn chair and an umbrella in case you need to be outside. More information and reminders will be coming as we get closer to the big day.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Ember Days are Here Again!
Ember Days are three days of partial (full on Friday) abstinence and fasting. We celebrate them on Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday four times a year, near the beginning of each season (weather seasons, not liturgical seasons!). The September Ember Days fall (a seasonal pun) next week. Wednesday, September 21, is St. Matthew’s feast day, and, although I had it printed in the parish calendar that we celebrate the Ember Day with a commemoration of St. Matthew, I got it wrong. We are to celebrate the apostle’s feast day with a commemoration of the Ember Day. The “partial abstinence” of that day and the following Saturday means that one may eat meat only at the main meal of the day. The “fasting” of all three days means that there is only one meal allowed (usually taken in the evening in our culture) and, if necessary to sustain strength or health, up to two small meatless collations, or snacks, earlier in the day. These collations are to be, if measured together, smaller than the full, regular-sized meal. Of course, these days are only found on the old calendars, not the current Novus Ordo calendar, and there is now no mandate for keeping these days of fast and abstinence. But for those of you who are striving to revive lost/forgotten/stolen Catholic traditions, I highly recommend that you incorporate these small penances into your week.
Last year I wrote more extensively about the ember days and how they were dropped from the Universal liturgical calendar with the expectation that they would be incorporated into the local calendars of various countries, something that, at least in the USA, was, sadly, never done. Since my weekly bulletin articles are so memorable, I assume that none of you need a refresher in that part of the history of Ember Days. So this year I will fabricate a completely different history of the Ember Days and present it to you as if it were the true liturgical story of bygone times.
Ember Days started, surprisingly enough, with embers. Embers are, by definition, “the smoldering remains of a fire.” There are many stories of fire and, hence, embers, in both the Old and New Testaments, and Scripture scholars are at odds as to which of them was the precursor to the first Ember Days. The most obvious beginning was from the days of Adam and Eve. The ThermoGenesis scholars believe that, while Eve ate the forbidden apple fresh from the tree, she baked the rest of it into a pie and gave it to Adam to eat, for only a man of very low character (such as we have in abundance today) would have betrayed God for a half-eaten piece of fruit, but for a “sinfully delicious pie,” well, even today’s advertisers know that that sounds mighty tempting. When they got kicked out of the Garden of Eden they failed to extinguish the cooking fire and the whole place burned. (You didn’t think the angel’s sword burst into flames on its own, did you?) The Ember Days were then set as commemorations of the end of Paradise on Earth, as they returned quarterly to reminisce and do penance at the charred remains of their formerly glorious home.
A competing group of Biblical scholars, the Exodousers, claim that a more likely source is the Burning Bush wherein God spoke with Moses. Moses secretly stuffed some of the non-combustible fire in his toga pockets to keep with him as he traveled to the Promised Land, for he knew that nights got cold in the desert. Another snake plays a prominent role in this theory, as well, for some of the desert snakes swallowed flames from his secret fire, thus getting the name “fiery serpents” which later bit the complaining people. This explanation is doubtful, however, since no embers are left over from a flame that does not consume the material upon which it rests.
Yet a third oftentimes defended position is that the Ember Days began with Elias (Elijah in some new-fangled translations). Two competing groups form this one general group. The first one, the Charcoalites, say that these days started with Elias calling down fire from Heaven upon the sacrificial bullock offered on Mount Charcoal (since changed to Mt. Carmel) when the prophets of Baal were unable to do so while calling upon their sleepy or vacationing gods. The Rhodeapple Scholars, while championing Elias, believe that the fiery horses and fiery chariot that swept him up in the whirlwind left behind burning embers, from which the beginnings of these days of penance began. It is not surprising that these two groups disagree, for they cannot even come to a consensus as to whether these two histories are found in the 2nd and 4th books of Kings or in the 1st and 3rd.
The last of the so-called scholars, a very extinguished group indeed, which is known as “The New World Smolder,” believe that the Ember Days didn’t have any true beginnings in the Old Testament but rather sprang from a beach barbeque after the Resurrection. When the apostles brought the miraculous catch of fish ashore, Jesus invited them to eat, for He had fish cooking on hot coals. It is thought that the embers of this fire might have been the inspiration for St. Peter to institute Ember Days in the early Church, for he certainly led the others in setting the world on fire. Our diocesan Patron, St. Jude, to this day does penance as a living ember (the Pentecost flame still atop his head) to make up for those who don’t keep the Ember Day penance.
I hope I didn’t re-ignite any old controversies by kindling your interest in these fantastical tales of scholarly debacle, I mean debate.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Father Dorvil Will Be With Us!
Next weekend, September 17 and 18, we will have a special guest priest celebrating Sunday Masses and preaching! Fr. Dorvil, who lives at Epiphany and has an office here, has been celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass twice a week since August of last year so those who attend the 8:00 am Mass on Tuesdays and Thursdays know him already. But most of the rest of you don’t, even though he has been at Epiphany much longer than I have been here. So let me introduce you to him before explaining why he will be preaching next weekend.
To begin with, Fr. Pierre Dorvil, SMM, is a De Montfort priest from Haiti, though he is now a US citizen. His order, need I say, is named after the famous French priest, Saint Louis-Marie Grignion de Montfort, whose classic 33 Day Total Consecration to Jesus through Mary, found in his book titled, “True Devotion to Mary”, many of you have undergone. His books, including The Secret of Mary and The Secret of the Rosary, are also so well known that most of you have read them as well. Fr. Dorvil is in charge of the Immaculate Conception Haitian Mission here in the diocese. His Masses are celebrated at St. Peter Claver Catholic Church which is a few miles south of here, which explains why you never see him around here on Sundays!
But this Sunday will be different, as he will stay with us for a change. Every year each parish is expected to host a Missionary Preacher one weekend during the late summer. The mission may be close, as is Immaculate Conception, or it may be in a different country, possibly even a different continent. Because Epiphany was the sponsoring parish for St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission, for years no outside Missionary has come to make an appeal here. When St. Joseph became its own parish, that changed. The Missionary Appeal preachers were already assigned (the diocese gets many, many requests each year and has to choose who to accept and which parish to assign them to) the year after the departure of the Vietnamese community, so this is the first year we have been assigned a Missionary preacher. Since Fr. Dorvil is familiar with the parish and many parishioners are familiar with him, and since he celebrates the Traditional Latin Mass as well as the Novus Ordo Mass, whoever makes the assignments at the chancery level must have determined that we would be a good fit for him and he for us!
I am writing this a week ahead of his appeal to get you ready for it. Monetary appeals are hard to make. Nobody likes to have to beg for money. But the reality is that not all missions, whether a local parish mission like Immaculate Conception (and formerly St. Joseph) or a foreign mission (perhaps in a poor section of India or Africa) can afford to pay the bills without appeals like this, asking assistance from kindhearted and dutiful fellow Catholics. Because I know Fr. Dorvil and know his mission, I can assure you that none of the money you contribute to him will be wasted or foolishly spent. Thank you in advance for your generosity and your prayers.
This Missionary Appeal is not to be confused with a Parish Mission! Due to covid restrictions, we haven’t been able to have one of those in a couple of years but we do have one on the books for November 13 through 17. Fr. Shannon Collins, MSJB (Missionaries of St. John the Baptist) will be preaching that Mission on the topic of The Most Precious Blood of Jesus. If you have been here for a few years you may very well remember another MSJB priest, Fr. Sean Kopczynski, who has preached parish missions for us in the past. While a Mission Appeal asks for donations from us to keep a mission funded, a Parish Mission brings spiritual renewal to our own parish. Although more information will be given when we get closer to the Mission, just be sure to mark your calendar already so that you can take advantage of this spiritual gift in preparation for Advent and Christmas.
Finally, I hope you don’t mind me giving an update on one more type of Appeal. Our parish donations to the Catholic Ministry Appeal, which pays the bills for the diocese, have been slowly increasing and I want to thank you for that (for the “increasing” part, not necessarily the “slowly” part!). We are about a third of the way toward our approximately $94,000 goal, up from 23% when the bishop wrote me in June. I believe letters from the diocese got delivered to you (with my signature, though not with my writing!) last week “inviting” you once again to give generously to this appeal. It’s hard to balance a family budget when prices keep rising but it’s hard to balance a diocesan budget, too, while facing the same price increases! Please prayerfully consider how much you should give and to which appeal(s) it should go rather than just randomly giving or not giving. One of the Precepts of the Church (that is, one of the bare minimum requirements to be a Catholic) is to give to the Church. The pastor (parish), the bishop (diocese), the missionary preacher (missions), the preacher of missions (spiritual nourishment), and many good charities (those with Catholic goals and which use Catholic morality as guidelines) are all waiting for you and God to come to an agreement about who gets what! When money (or time and energy) and prayer are combined in a gift, out of love of God and neighbor, the Church shines brightly and her mission (the salvation of souls) can be accomplished.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Three Holidays This Week!
Monday is Labor Day! I think that, given how many baptisms we have here, Labor Day should be our parish’s Number Two holiday, second only to Epiphany itself. But that’s not the kind of labor they were thinking of when this holiday was established. No, they were thinking more along the lines of the laborers who toil so diligently around here making the grounds look spiffy; the Purgatorial Society ladies who labor so hard to keep the metal liturgical items shiny; the office staff who labor incessantly at their desks filling out forms, making appointments, scheduling meetings, and doing all those other pesky things that keep a parish humming; the countless volunteers who work so tirelessly making sure that everyone, especially our children, know, love and serve God in this life so as to be happy with Him forever in the next; and everyone else who grunts and groans and sweats and heaves and lifts and sweeps and fixes and all the rest of that good stuff. In short, we honor those who labor. Even in the secular world, we cannot get by without people laboring at jobs, many of which each of us individually would be unable to do, and most of which we would be unwilling to do, yet all necessary for our life as we know it.
This is how the US Department of Labor website begins describing this holiday: “Observed the first Monday in September, Labor Day is an annual celebration of the social and economic achievements of American workers. The holiday is rooted in the late nineteenth century, when labor activists pushed for a federal holiday to recognize the many contributions workers have made to America’s strength, prosperity, and well-being.” The page goes on to explain the origins of the holiday, the “controversy” about who should get “credit” for starting it, and the way the holiday grew in a relatively short time from being an idea, to being celebrated in several states, to a couple of dozen states joining in, to being a national holiday. If you like holiday trivia, go check it out. They even have a “Labor Hall of Honor” in which men and women are inducted who have been somehow outstanding in their work for laborers rights, pay, and more. This list includes people of diverse backgrounds, and some of those who may be familiar to you include Ronald Reagan, Ted Kennedy (yes, both on the same list!), Helen Keller, and Adolphus Busch. More on this latter man later.
The next holiday is not a secular one and not even one that is seen as particularly important even in the Church liturgical calendar, but one of which I am particularly fond. Thursday, September 8 is the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary and, although I don’t want to in any way detract from that minor feast, for me it is overshadowed by another feast not well known around here. It is the feast of Our Lady of Good Health. I have written about this feast several times over the years, as I try to increase devotion to Our Lady under this title. I give her credit for keeping me healthy enough to carry out my priestly duties. This is no little thing, for, without an associate priest as backup, if I get too sick to do my job, there is nothing to do but cancel everything that requires a priest! I still occasionally get the sniffles, the flu, and maybe even deadly pandemic diseases, yet she gives me strength to carry on even if I whine about it and go back to bed at the first chance I get. And no, I am not joking about this. A Religious Sister introduced me to this devotion which is quite popular in India, where the Blessed Mother appeared under this title, and I have worn her medal around my neck ever since. Our Lady of Good Health, continue to pray for me!
So the first holiday of the week is a secular one (although our parish office will be closed for it!) and the second holiday is a Catholic one, though not (yet) well known in the US. The third holiday is a Catholic holiday, too, but with ties to the secular holiday. Remember that I mentioned Adolphus Busch being in the (secular) Labor Hall of Honor? He is there due to his advances in the making, pasteurizing, refrigerating, shipping, and distributing beer. Notably, stated the site, he developed Budweiser, the best selling beer in the world. (I am not sure if this award means he gave laborers jobs in beer factories or because laborers often enjoy beer when the work is done!) Now, how does this man fit in with a Catholic holiday? Certainly, by now you have all remembered that September 9 is Buy a Priest a Beer Day! Good ol’ Adolphus made it much more convenient for this holiday to be celebrated, for you no longer have to take your priest to a Belgian Trappist monastery for a good, hearty, draught, since exceptionally satisfying beer can now be found just about everywhere. Several years ago I suggested that, “If you buy one for a Traditional priest, I suggest a full-bodied, flavorful dark beer such as a stout or porter, whereas for a Novus Ordo priest a more fitting choice might be something light and fruity.” Some of the more “sensitive” priests whimpered that I was making fun of them (no, not them personally—but, yes, I was!) so this year I retract that advice and simply change it to, “If the priest still has mask signs up at his church, you might want to buy him a Capri Sun and a blankie instead.” Even Mr. Busch would understand.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: What to do With Modernists
This coming Saturday is the feast day of Pope St. Pius X. At the Holy League, the men and I have been studying (for years!) some of this blessed Saint’s simplest writings. We started out with his basic Catechism. This catechism followed along the lines of the Baltimore Catechism, giving insight into Church teachings through simple questions and clear answers. Many of the answers seem shockingly blunt to today’s ears, for we are almost never exposed, neither in Church nor elsewhere, to truth spoken (or written) with the clarity of conviction and love.
At the Holy League we then moved on to studying this Saint’s 1907 decree, Lamentabili Sane, Syllabus Condemning the Errors of the Modernists. Although the catechism had already opened the men’s eyes to the fact that much of what passes for “Church teaching” today is at least deficient if not outright incorrect, Lamentabili is showing them just how pernicious this erroneous teaching really is and how long it has been among us. (Hint: The year 1907 came slightly before the Second Vatican Council!) This document lists errors currently (then and now) being taught by so-called Scripture scholars, theologians, and other muckety-mucks in the Church.
Today I will give you all a little more from this Saintly Pope from his writing titled, Praestantia Scripturae: On the Bible Against the Modernists. While it is only two pages long, that is still too long to quote entirely here. In the very first line, he cuts to the chase and says that he is issuing “censures and penalties against those who neglect to observe the prescriptions against the errors of the modernists”, lays out his rationale for doing so, and then succinctly explains what happens to those who hold and teach modernist errors as if they are true. It is here that I pick up the following text. Note the clarity of his statements. You will see in these words a loving Father’s concern for the spiritual well-being of his children. He takes seriously his role as Defender of the Faith. St. Pius X, pray for us!
Wherefore we find it necessary to declare and to expressly prescribe, and by this our act we do declare and decree that all are bound in conscience to submit to the decisions of the Biblical Commission relating to doctrine, which have been given in the past and which shall be given in the future, in the same way as to the decrees of the Roman congregations approved by the Pontiff; nor can all those escape the note of disobedience or temerity, and consequently of grave sin, who in speech or writing contradict such decisions, and this besides the scandal they give and the other reasons for which they may be responsible before God for other temerities and errors which generally go with such contradictions.
Moreover, in order to check the daily increasing audacity of many modernists who are endeavoring by all kinds of sophistry and devices to detract from the force and efficacy not only of the decree “Lamentabili sane exitu” (the so-called Syllabus), issued by our order by the Holy Roman and Universal Inquisition on July 3 of the present year, but also of our encyclical letters “Pascendi dominici gregis” given on September 8 of this same year, we do by our apostolic authority repeat and confirm both that decree of the Supreme Sacred Congregation and those encyclical letters of ours, adding the penalty of excommunication against their contradictors, and this we declare and decree that should anybody, which may God forbid, be so rash as to defend any one of the propositions, opinions or teachings condemned in these documents he falls, ipso facto, under the censure contained under the chapter “Docentes” of the constitution “Apostolicae Sedis,” which is the first among the excommunications latae sententiae, simply reserved to the Roman Pontiff. This excommunication is to be understood as salvis poenis, which may be incurred by those who have violated in any way the said documents, as propagators and defenders of heresies, when their propositions, opinions and teachings are heretical, as has happened more than once in the case of the adversaries of both these documents, especially when they advocate the errors of the modernists that is, the synthesis of all heresies.
Wherefore we again and most earnestly exhort the ordinaries of the dioceses and the heads of religious congregations to use the utmost vigilance over teachers, and first of all in the seminaries; and should they find any of them imbued with the errors of the modernists and eager for what is new and noxious, or lacking in docility to the prescriptions of the Apostolic See, in whatsoever way published, let them absolutely forbid the teaching office to such; so, too, let them exclude from sacred orders those young men who give the very faintest reason for doubt that they favor condemned doctrines and pernicious novelties. We exhort them also to take diligent care to put an end to those books and other writings, now growing exceedingly numerous, which contain opinions or tendencies of the kind condemned in the encyclical letters and decree above mentioned; let them see to it that these publications are removed from Catholic publishing houses, and especially from the hands of students and the clergy. By doing this they will at the same time be promoting real and solid education, which should always be a subject of the greatest solicitude for those who exercise sacred authority.
All these things we will and order to be sanctioned and established by our apostolic authority, aught to the contrary notwithstanding.
Given at Rome in Saint Peter’s, the 18th November, 1907, the fifth year of our Pontificate.
Pius PP. X.
With Prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: New Catholic Cemetery?
Is there ever good news about death (apart from Eternal Life, that is)? Today there just may be some. There has long been talk about the lack of Catholic cemeteries in our diocese. The only one that is open to all Catholics (some older parishes have private cemeteries in which only their parishioners may be buried) is located across the bay in Clearwater. It is a nice cemetery and I have been there numerous times from parishes farther away than this one, as people wanted to be buried in a Catholic cemetery rather than a Catholic section of a secular cemetery. Of course, the further the family lives from the cemetery, the less likely they are to visit the grave of their deceased loved ones. But there is a new Catholic cemetery preparing to open up on this side of the bay and it looks like it is less than 20 minutes from Epiphany!
The diocese sent me a link to Resurrection Cemetery (https://resurrectioncemeteryfl.com/) and I am passing it on to you. From what I can see, it will be in a very beautiful, wooded setting. One thing they don’t mention anywhere that I could find, though, is actually burials. They mention above-ground places for bodies and ashes, they show photos of buildings being built for such purposes, and they have plenty of images of heavy equipment clearing under and around trees to give way for roads and other unknown things. Perhaps there is not room for a “traditional” in-ground burial or perhaps it is swampy land unfit for digging six feet. Or maybe I just missed it. But read for yourself what they have on their site:
Resurrection Cemetery is more than a consecrated location for interment of our departed loved ones. The cemetery is a ministry of the Catholic Diocese of St. Petersburg, where mausoleums and cremation niches are sparsely placed within the natural wooded lands of a 120-acre nature preserve.
Phase one is currently under construction with 1,784 spaces for caskets and 1,776 niche spaces for cremains. Heritage structures are crafted of steel-reinforced concrete and clad with solid granite.
An on-site office is set to open, and the first mausoleums and niches are scheduled for completion by late Fall of 2022. Generous discounts are offered for purchases made prior to opening.
You might want to check it out yourself. The “generous discounts” part might be helpful for those who plan ahead, so don’t wait much longer to ask Terry Young (the director) any questions or even for a pre-opening tour. Here is his contact information:
How may we help you?
We would be delighted to answer any questions you might have regarding Resurrection Cemetery or if you would like to schedule an appointment to meet in person, you may contact Terry Young via our contact form, by telephone or email.
10668 E. Sligh Avenue
Seffner, FL 33584
This is the type of thing that the Diocese does with the money you send to what used to be APA and is now Catholic Ministry Appeal. It takes a lot of money to begin such a big project and the Bishop doesn’t have any way to finance such things without your generosity. Having a Catholic cemetery on this side of the bay will help Catholics for generations to come and your donations helped to make it a reality. (The north end of our diocese could use a Catholic cemetery or two also, but at least this is a good start.) With that segue into the CMA, let me remind you that we haven’t come anywhere close to meeting our goal yet this year. If you haven’t yet made a donation, please consider doing so soon so that you don’t forget. Giving to diocesan projects like the cemetery, seminary (sometimes indistinguishable!), charities, and other necessities, helps fulfill one of our basic Catholic precepts, to support the Church. If you remember a few months ago I mentioned that the Bishop didn’t see the progress he was expecting here in regards to the CMA donations and he asked that another letter go out with my signature on it asking you to give generously. I was told that those letters should be out either already or within a very short time. So don’t just toss it!
And, on the topics of Catholic Burials, donations, and precepts, remember that it doesn’t do you any good to have a nice grave if you don’t make it to Heaven. So keep working on all of the precepts, not just the one mentioned, love God and neighbor more and more each day, and always remember that by being fully, faithfully, and joyfully Catholic you will become a Saint!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: No Phones! No Internet!
At the beginning of last week, half of the things I had on my calendar got bumped due to other, more urgent necessities needing my attention. On Thursday morning, after Benediction, I was trying to accomplish one of Wednesday’s missed tasks, but I had to get to the emails first and, before getting anywhere near finishing them, it was already time to head to the church for an afternoon baptism. So much for catching up. After the baptism, I was invited to the family’s house for a bbq but I had to decline, since, among other things, I still needed to write my bulletin article before the day was done. And maybe then more emails. Or maybe Wednesday’s project. Or... I got back to the rectory, set myself down at the computer, and found that there was no internet connection.
Sigh. I wish I could say that this was a one-time event but it happens quite frequently. At one time, Mark had the Brighthouse/Spectrum number memorized since he called it so often. They would dutifully ask if we had rebooted the system, if we had damaged the equipment in any way, if... anything to avoid taking responsibility for their failure to give us the goods we pay for. They would then dutifully tell us that a technician would be out in a day or two to fix it. We are a business, so we get better, quicker service than a residential customer! The tech would drive up, test everything, putter around “fixing” things, and tell us that intermittent problems are to be expected because we are at the end of the cable line. The company simply doesn’t care. Evidently, a problem further up the line might interfere with others down the line but ours only affects us. Why bother doing it right?
Anyway, instead of grousing about the past failures, I dutifully rebooted the system and waited for the internet to return. Nothing changed. Oh, well, I still had a stack of phone messages awaiting me so I turned to them. But there was no dial tone. The phone is also Spectrum. I then checked out the TV that hasn’t been turned on since Fr. Tuoc left for Vietnam. It, too, was getting no signal. So I took it as a sign from God that I was to go to have some barbeque ribs with the baptism family!
After a very nice time away from all the cares of the parish, I returned home expecting everything to be up and running (every once in a while, I am an optimist) but, of course, it wasn’t. That is why you got a “re-run” article in last week’s bulletin. Of course, I have more than enough reading to catch up on, so I was going to spend the next few hours before bedtime in the leisurely pursuit of entertainment. I picked up the Pohle-Preuss Manual of Dogmatic Theology, volume 3, where I am getting very confused as to the dogmatic teachings on creation, which somehow was skipped in the seminary, and which, surprisingly to me, includes both first and second creation, and somehow seems to say that one doesn’t go against Church dogma in holding just about any view of creation so long as one does not deny that God created everything out of nothing. But that pursuit of knowledge ended in about twenty minutes, as my cell phone rang and text messages came in. I managed to read a few more pages after the interruptions were taken care of, and promptly fell asleep in my chair before finishing the section on “The Hexaemeron and Exegesis.” Go figure!
The next morning we found out that the internet at the parish office (not rectory) was working but the phones weren’t. Usually, that is. It seems that we had no dial tone at either the rectory or the office and most of the time when somebody called all they got was a continuing ring. No answer, no answering machine, just a ring. But it wasn’t ringing through. Except for every once in a while. I only heard the phone ring once all day but I was told that several people managed to get their calls through to the front desk. We called Spectrum and they very helpfully told us that, since we are a business, they would send somebody right over at the crack of Monday between 10:00 and 11:00 am. To give them due credit, though, they did offer to get here Sunday morning with this caveat: “Appointments typically take between one and three hours to complete after the technician arrives. An adult over the age of 18 with a government-issued photo ID must be present during our visit.” Of course, that person must know where the phones and computers and connections are and also have keys to access those places, which pretty much means that Sunday mornings are impossible for us. But they actually did arrive before 11:00 on Monday, checked everything, plugged and unplugged everything, traced wires, tested connections, and finally announced, “Yep, just as we thought. We cannot fix this. It is a problem on top of one of the poles. We will call for a bucket truck to come and figure out which pole. They should get here before 6 pm.
By nightfall on Monday the phones and internet seemingly worked again. It took until Thursday morning for us to discover that line one only allowed us outgoing calls and line 2 didn’t work at all. That (hopefully) got fixed in the afternoon before I finished writing this article! When the government offices across the street open, surely the cable company will update the connections. Will they extend it to us, as well?
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Feast of the Holy Machabees
On Monday we celebrate the Feast of a holy group of men, Mathathias and his sons, the Machabees. When is the last time you read the two books of the Machabees in your bible? There may never be a better time to do so than this week. Men, I ask you especially to read this to or with your boys, for it teaches lessons on manhood, on faithfulness, on courage, and other now-lost aspects of what it is to be a true man of God. And, for the ladies and girls, there is one of the best examples of faithful motherhood in book two! The first book starts out with an evil king conquering nation after nation, taking everything of value, and instilling fear in all others. It shows how even Jerusalem, God’s holy city, was ravaged and sacked. Many of God’s people, having more fear of death than fear of God, did even abominable sins and renounced their faith in order to please this evil king with the hopes of being left alive, even if left in squalor. Here we will see, though, that when just one man, Mathathias, retains his faith and is willing to risk everything for the glory of God, others will follow him and God will bring miraculous victories. Let me give you just a taste of the second chapter of the first book to whet your appetite.
And they that were sent from king Antiochus, came thither, to compel them that were fled into the city of Modin, to sacrifice, and to burn incense, and to depart from the law of God. And many of the people of Israel consented and came to them: but Mathathias and his sons stood firm. And they that were sent from Antiochus, answering, said to Mathathias: Thou art a ruler, and an honourable, and great man in this city, and adorned with sons, and brethren. Therefore, come thou first, and obey the king's commandment, as all nations have done, and the men of Juda, and they that remain in Jerusalem: and thou, and thy sons shall be in the number of the king's friends, and enriched with gold, and silver, and many presents.
Then Mathathias answered, and said with a loud voice: Although all nations obey king Antiochus, so as to depart every man from the service of the law of his fathers, and consent to his commandments: I and my sons, and my brethren will obey the law of our fathers. God be merciful unto us: it is not profitable for us to forsake the law, and the justices of God: We will not hearken to the words of king Antiochus, neither will we sacrifice and transgress the commandments of our law, to go another way.
Now as he left off speaking these words, there came a certain Jew in the sight of all to sacrifice to the idols upon the altar in the city of Modin, according to the king's commandment. And Mathathias saw, and was grieved, and his reins trembled, and his wrath was kindled according to the judgment of the law, and running upon him he slew him upon the altar: Moreover the man whom king Antiochus had sent, who compelled them to sacrifice, he slew at the same time, and pulled down the altar, And shewed zeal for the law, as Phinees did by Zamri, the son of Salomi.
And Mathathias cried out in the city with a loud voice, saying: Every one that hath zeal for the law, and maintaineth the testament, let him follow me. So he and his sons fled into the mountains, and left all that they had in the city. Then many that sought after judgment, and justice, went down into the desert And they abode there, they and their children, and their wives, and their cattle: because afflictions increased upon them... And all they that fled from the evils, joined themselves to them, and were a support to them. And they gathered an army, and slew the sinners in their wrath, and the wicked men in their indignation: and the rest fled to the nations for safety. And Mathathias and his friends went round about, and they threw down the altars: And they circumcised all the children whom they found in the confines of Israel that were uncircumcised: and they did valiantly. And they pursued after the children of pride, and the work prospered in their hands: And they recovered the law out of the hands of the nations, and out of the hands of the kings: and they yielded not the horn to the sinner.
Now the days drew near that Mathathias should die, and he said to his sons: Now hath pride and chastisement gotten strength, and the time of destruction, and the wrath of indignation: Now, therefore, O my sons, be ye zealous for the law, and give your lives for the covenant of your fathers. And call to remembrance the works of the fathers, which they have done in their generations: and you shall receive great glory, and an everlasting name.... And thus consider, through all generations: that none that trust in him, fail in strength... You, therefore, my sons, take courage, and behave manfully in the law: for by it you shall be glorious... And you shall take to you all that observe the law: and revenge ye the wrong of your people. Render to the Gentiles their reward, and take heed to the precepts of the law. And he blessed them, and was joined to his fathers.
You can find the rest of the story in your own bible.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Personal Pronoun Enforcement Time!
Recently, I was reading a news article and couldn’t figure out who in the heck was being written about after the first few sentences of the article. The pronouns didn’t make any sense to me. Without explaining in the article, the writer was using non-normal or abnormal personal pronouns when referring to one of the characters in the story. I could also classify this use of incorrect pronouns the way I just did (they are “incorrect”) or by saying that they are non-normative or that they are a misuse of proper English. But however I classify them, there will be people who claim that I am the one not classifying them properly. They will even accuse me of being transphobic, homophobic, racist, and pre-Vatican II because I did not say that the willful misuse of personal pronouns is both perfectly acceptable and mandatory. But caring about understanding a news story (hence, I read it in English rather than in Greek) does not make me a -phobe of any sort. In fact, not another single article I read in that same publication misused personal pronouns, and, by using “normal” pronouns for “normal” people they show that either each reporter and editor (other than those responsible for the original subject of this article) is also pre-Vattranshomoraciphobic or else they show that normal is normal and abnormal is just for show.
The fact that an avid English reader such as myself cannot understand an English news article shows that it certainly is not normal at all to use the wrong pronouns. For, even if I had been reading a very detailed article written using highly specialized terms, such as an article in a prestigious medical journal dealing with the latest technological advances in fighting off Sphenopalatine Ganglioneuralgia on a hot summer day, I should be able to understand, due to proper use of personal pronouns, whether the author is quoting the doctor or the patient or anyone else already specified in the article, even if it took me a while to figure out that they were discussing what is commonly known as “brain freeze” from eating ice cream too quickly.
I sort of feel sorry for the reporters nowadays. I can picture them sitting alone in their apartments, masked up, with CNN on in the background stating once again, “Thank Fauci-god that Joe Biden is 5 times jabbed and masked because he just tested positive for covid once again!” trying to enter personal pronouns into the story of a lady and her two adult daughters, but, being reporters rather than biologists, not being able to distinguish just how many women, if any, were just interviewed. It must be extremely difficult to use sex-specific pronouns when one cannot distinguish between males and females! But, realizing that I am just an old fuddy duddy (see, even the use of such a term shows how ancient I am) who is behind the times, I decided to examine more closely the whole “pronoun” thing to see if I could catch up. I found a quite amusing table of woke genderbender-identifying information.
Pronouns: In a sentence:
she/her/hers She wants you to use her pronouns.
he/him/his He wants you to use his pronouns.
ze/hir Ze wants you to use hir pronouns.
they/them/theirs They want you to use their pronouns.
co/cos Co wants you to use cos pronouns.
No pronoun (use the person’s name instead of a pronoun) ___(name) wants you to use ___(name) pronouns.
xe/xem/xyr Xe wants you to use xyr pronouns.
hy/hym/hys Hy wants you to use hys pronouns.
Have you ever seen such nonsense? You have if you work for the government or a woke company. I know that some of you have had to sit through “inclusivity” or “anti-hate” indoctrination meetings which teach such very strange things as this. You can even find name tag stickers online that say, “Hello! My Name Is... My Pronouns are...”
Needless to say, I think it is a travesty that the elites are allowing individual people to insist that we pervert the English language just so that they can feel smug about themselves for a brief moment. That the official press “stylebooks” mandate such usage for their reporters just adds to the madness. But I am not averse to piling on even more madness! So next week, when I go in for my gynecological exam (on what grounds could the insurance company deny that bill?!?), I plan to fill out the information form stating that my personal pronouns are “My lord and My god / All hail the king / I’m a little teapot” with the notation that the last pronoun must be sung when it is used.
In closing, Ze was going to try writing the last one of xyr’s sentences using hers various pronouns but co wasn’t quite sure how to write them’s pronouns and didn’t want to make theirs cry by using the incorrect ones incorrectly.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Catholic Enrichment Week
This week our Catholic Enrichment Week went swimmingly well. Without any literal swimming, of course, but we did play in the rain a little bit. Many parishes hold summer Vacation Bible Schools which are usually fun and glitzy protestant play- and sing-fests with a song and a Bible verse to memorize each day. They sometimes use a “Catholic” version of it which doesn’t actually make it Catholic but it removes any overtly anti-Catholic teachings from the box. For the most part, they are glorified babysitting services used by the parents to keep their children busy for a few hours a day without having to supervise them themselves. I can’t say I blame them, for a whole summer of breaking up sibling arguments and listening to “I’m bored!” can get pretty rough. But our program is better, and I take no credit for this whatsoever, for years ago someone who always wishes to remain nameless and gets embarrassed if I give her credit, said, “I think I can put something together with some real meat. May I?” And she did. And it has grown every year, with more and more volunteers teaching, watching, preparing, cleaning up, and doing everything else needed to pull it off. I am always impressed.
This week the focus of the teachings and crafts and other things was “The Mass.” It began on Monday morning with a very informative and scholarly history of the Mass taught by She Who Will Not Be Named. I don’t know how many hours, days, weeks, and months she puts into her presentations but they are always packed full of facts, stories, dates, trivia, and other, dare I say, intelligent information. She doesn’t try to teach to the lowest level of interest, of Catholic education, of ability to sit quietly, or anything like that. She treats the children to a cluster of facts and figures that even the adults can (and do) learn from and lets everyone simply absorb what they are capable of taking in. That approach keeps it from being dull for the most interested of “students” and it is never too “dumbed down” for anyone in the group. It is amazing what even the youngest or least informed (some are new to Catholicism, some new to Tradition) will pick up if you just give them the chance!
Tuesday brought the incomparable Fr. Paul Pecchied all the way from the North Pole (or Brooksville, I get them mixed up sometimes). He gave a talk on the colors and other symbols used in the Mass. He spoke about light and darkness, triangles and circles, the vestment colors of red, green, rose, black, violet, white, gold, silver, plaid, checkered, and mauve (or maybe I misheard part of that), plus he threw in a little Greek to explain the Chi Rho and maybe even a few other languages as well. He is well versed in all things Catholic and presents with a little bit of humor and a lot of New York attitude. We were blessed that he could make it and help us out.
On Wednesday we had our resident musical hippie, Anders Bergmann. He more than makes up for my lack of hair with his long trusses but he keeps it all wrapped up in a man-bun, probably because if he wore a ponytail I would call him a hippie. Like I just did. Don't’ tell him! He probably doesn’t read the bulletin and won’t know what I said! Unlike the hippies of my day, he didn’t bring a guitar and tambourine with him for his presentation, though. He gave a history of Church music. Once again, we had in him a presenter who was not about to give a childish presentation to the children but, rather, gave a lesson worthy of an adult audience. Some of the children were very keen and already well-informed musically and they probably followed everything he said completely. Others would have only gotten part of it. But even the littlest learned more and were actually more interested in the talk than adults usually give them credit for. When we are afraid of “talking over their heads” we wind up with musical presentations including rounds of “Michael, row your boat ashore” or worse, with the excuse that “it keeps their attention.” It also keeps them from learning about how good liturgical music helps them pray!
The last two presentations were given by your pastor. Uggghhh. I know, but they ran out of good presenters and, when they were scraping the bottom of the barrel, there I was. My two presentations were on “How to use a Missal.” Why did I get two days and everyone else only got one? Because I am the pastor, of course! Plus, I talk a lot and need more time than allotted in just one day. Of course, I am having to write this before I have given my presentations, but I assume that nobody died of boredom and that all of the children now know how to use their missals. Most of them may already have their own personal missals (I can hope, at least) and already know how to use them. So my first day’s talk was to be just reiterating the basics: The Sunday Masses’ changeable parts (prayers and reading which differ each week) are in the front of most missals. The Daily Masses’ changeable parts (much more difficult to follow) are in the rear. And the unchangeable parts of the Mass are in the middle. The second day’s talk was to be “How to use your missal to pray the Mass while ignoring what I taught you yesterday.” How did it go? Ask the children!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Brown Scapular
This coming Saturday, July 16, is the Feast of Our Lady of Mount Carmel. At the end of Mass, I will gladly enroll anyone who has not yet been enrolled in the Confraternity of the Brown Scapular as long as they bring a Brown Scapular with them. You only need to be enrolled once in your life and this is traditionally done at First Holy Communion, but some of you may not have had that grace given to you. You know how traditions have fallen by the wayside in recent decades, after all. So have a scapular at hand and come to Mass on Saturday! Below is some great information gleaned from the website sistersofcarmel.com which happened to be the first non-advertisement google result for brown scapulars. Edited for readability in this space.
In the year 1251, in the town of Aylesford in England, Our Lady appeared to St. Simon Stock, a Carmelite. She handed him a brown woolen scapular and said, “This shall be a privilege for you and all Carmelites, that anyone dying in this habit shall not suffer eternal fire.” In time, the Church extended this magnificent privilege to all the laity who are willing to be invested in the Brown Scapular of the Carmelites and who perpetually wear it.
True devotion to the Blessed Virgin Mary consists in three things: VENERATION, CONFIDENCE AND LOVE. By simply wearing the Scapular, we can tell her every moment of the day that we venerate her, love her and trust in her protection.
The Scapular Is a Silent Prayer
As Our Lord taught us to say the Our Father, Our Blessed Mother taught us the value of the scapular. When we use it as a prayer, Our Lady draws us to the Sacred Heart of Her Divine Son. It is good, therefore, to hold the scapular in the hand. A prayer offered while holding the Scapular is as perfect as a prayer can be. It is especially in time of temptation that we need the powerful intercession of God’s Mother. The evil spirit is utterly powerless when the wearer of a scapular faces temptation, calling upon the Holy Virgin in this silent devotion. “If you had recommended yourself to me, you would not have run into such danger,” was Our Lady’s gentle reproach to Blessed Alan de la Roche, one of her devoted servants.
Enrollment in the Confraternity
To be eligible for the scapular promise, one must be enrolled in the Brown Scapular Confraternity. This is a simple ceremony which can be performed by any priest (see below). The members of the Confraternity have the added benefit of sharing in all the spiritual benefits of the Carmelite Order.
The Sabbatine Privilege
The Blessed Virgin of Mount Carmel has promised to save those who wear the scapular from the fires of hell; She will also shorten their stay in purgatory if they should pass from this world still owing some debt of punishment.
This promise is found in a Bull of Pope John XXII. The Blessed Virgin appeared to him and, speaking of those who wear the Brown Scapular, said, “I, the Mother of Grace, shall descend on the Saturday after their death and whomsoever I shall find in purgatory I shall free so that I may lead them to the holy mountain of life everlasting.”
The Blessed Virgin assigned certain conditions which must be fulfilled:
1. Wear the Brown Scapular continuously.
2. Observe chastity according to one’s state in life (married/single).
3. Recite daily the Little Office of the Blessed Virgin OR Observe the fasts of the Church together with abstaining from meat on Wednesdays and Saturdays OR With permission of a priest, say five decades of Our Lady’s Most Holy Rosary OR With permission of a priest, substitute some other good work.
The Morning Offering
O my God, in union with the Immaculate Heart of Mary (here kiss the scapular as a sign of your consecration), I offer Thee the Precious Blood of Jesus from all the altars throughout the world, joining with It the offering of my every thought, word and action of this day. O my Jesus, I desire today to gain every indulgence and merit I can, and I offer them, together with myself, to Mary Immaculate, that she may best apply them to the interests of Thy most Sacred Heart. Precious Blood of Jesus, save us! Immaculate Heart of Mary, pray for us! Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!
THE ROSARY AND THE SCAPULAR ARE INSEPARABLE. PRAY THE ROSARY DAILY.
And now for a few departing remarks from your pastor. I wear the brown scapular always and everywhere. I used to take it off when swimming or bathing because I was used to the cheapo versions of it falling apart in water, but discovered that if I purchased a good quality scapular (see the site the above info came from) it could withstand even a good scrubbing! Plus, it stays clean and smells fresh without my having to carefully wash it. My brown scapular keeps me united to my mother Mary. It doesn’t take much time to say the morning offering and to kiss my scapular yet it starts me on the path towards Heaven even before I’ve celebrated Mass. Get enrolled and wear yours, too!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: What Will Become Of Us?
The Supreme Court ruled that the legality or illegality of abortion must be returned to the states. They rightly pointed out that the US Constitiution does not give the Federal Government authority to make abortion legal. What they failed to state is that no State Government should be able to legalize the murder of children in the womb, either. But at least it is a start toward that reality and will save countless lives and even more souls. But, judging from the demonic howls of leftists, you would think that abortion is now illegal everywhere in the world (as it should be). There are a few states which already had laws in place stating that, should Roe v. Wade be overturned, abortion would be illegal in that state. But lawsuits have already been filed asking to stay those laws and overturn them as soon as possible. Several Attorneys General in such states have already announced that they will not enforce those laws regardless of what the courts decide. Yes, the demons are boldly revealing themselves. “We must kill children! The torture, dismemberment, and sales of the resultant dead baby body parts is our Right/Rite!” they chant, scream, and screech, though they dress up those words in such a way as to make the grim reality more palatable for those too squeamish to admit the truth about it. There are cries that Democracy is dead, that our Country cannot survive without abortion, and that the Supreme Court must be eliminated. More on this later.
Large, woke, mega-Corporations have announced to great fanfare that they will pay huge sums of money to their employees who wish to kill their children in utero, all to keep them working, for the bottom line is more important than the child’s life, and it is cheaper to pay for “abortion vacations” than to pay maternity leave. Some previously unknown group is currently threatening a “sex boycott” encouraging women to stop sleeping around with men until they go to the vet and get fixed. Wow! It sounds almost (almost, mind you) like they want to bring back abstinence outside of marriage and chastity in dating!
The “funny” thing about this is that suddenly everyone and their brother (or sister or trans something or other) actually knows what a woman is. Excluding, that is, Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson, who should be sworn in as the newest Supreme Court Justice by the time you read this article. But all of the other pro-deathers keep repeating that men should have no say in abortion “rights” even though they said until last week that men can get pregnant! This week, only women can get pregnant and only women can interpret the Constitution and only women can join the sex boycott (since men boycotting it would, presumably, be a means of controlling and subjugating women to their own whims, or something like that).
Although it would have been written and submitted long before the Dobbs case overturned Roe, the comic strip Dilbert poked fun of this woke nonsense about not being able to distinguish between men and women just last Sunday. In the June 26 strip, Wally told his boss that he had to go home because of “cramps” (and not leg cramps) claiming, “I identify as a birthing human.” He continued, “To be honest, I am only doing it for the benefits, but I believe that my scheme is allowed under our current guidelines, is it not?” Yes, it is only a comic strip but it points out the absolute absurdity of claiming that men and women are distinguishable only by how they self-identify rather than by biology. All of the “elite” in our society seem to have embraced such nonsense to the point that the aforementioned new Justice was not laughed out of the room and out of contention for her coveted spot when she(?) could not define what a woman is, claiming that she(?) “isn’t a biologist.”
Assuming that at least some states wake from Woke and outlaw child murder, what will become of America? Is Democracy dead without abortion? I think it already was dead but, like a zombie, still kept some slight appearance of being alive. The recent covid authoritarianism and last “election” quite clearly exposed our “zombie democracy” for what it is. (That the Supreme Court could invent a “right” to abortion out of thin air without the other two branches immediately putting that lie to rest, and without an immediate revolution from the people in the voting booths, shows that Democracy was sickly even before we started killing our children by the millions.) Can our Country survive without abortion? I am not sure but at least it will die with some states having regained dignity. We may see the Divided States of America. Imagine California not allowing the import or sale of any food, goods, or services if the parent company has any dealings with a pro-life state. Same with the major mega-Corporations and sports authorities. No, those leftists who demand open borders today will demand walls around the pro-life states tomorrow, to intimidate, threaten, and even starve them into abortion acceptance once again. They will sacrifice even their own people to achieve this end. Will the Supreme Court be eliminated? Probably not. One leftist was already apprehended while attempting to murder a “conservative” Justice. More will follow his footsteps. If successful, the Court, rather than being eliminated, will simply be filled with immoral ignoramuses aplenty.
But all is not lost. Maybe, just maybe, we still have enough (mostly silent until now) moral people willing to openly fight for life now that it looks like we have a chance. May God give supernatural grace to the “good guys” in this battle!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Day of Reparation
This Wednesday, June 29, our parish’s Holy Face group is inviting you to share in a Day of Reparation for atrocities done by our Federal Government toward our unborn children. Here is a description of the day’s intent: The US Federal Government that has been buying harvested fetal baby body parts for scientific experimentation. Federal tax dollars, our money, is used for these purchases. We must pray for the end to this barbaric organ harvesting and the slaughter of near-term (and full-term) babies. We must beg God's forgiveness for this country. We must pray to end all abortions. We must pray to stop the funding of Planned (un)Parenthood. We must also pray for the end to the perversion and moral destruction of our children who have been born. Please, on June 29, abstain from eating meat, fast, and pray in reparation for these evils. Here is the scheduled prayers of Reparation (that is, prayers we will offer to help repair the spiritual, emotional, and physical damage described above) we will conduct in the church:
8:00 Holy Mass
9:00 Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, confession, Rosary for Priests
10:30 Prayers from the Holy Face of Jesus Manual
noon The Joyful Mysteries of the Rosary
12:30 The Sorrowful Mysteries
1:00 The Glorious Mysteries
1:30 The Stations of the Cross
2:15 Prayers from the Holy Face of Jesus Manual
3:00 Divine Mercy Chaplet
4:00 Adoration ends
Although there will be Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament throughout this period of prayer, we do not need you to sign up the way we ask for First Friday Adoration. Because the Holy Face group is sponsoring this day of Reparation, they have assured me that there will always be people present in front of Our Lord. If you have never heard of the Holy Face (of Jesus) devotion or simply want some information about what our group does, this is a great time to find answers! Maybe you will want to include this devotion in your normal prayers schedule. Or maybe not. This is a legitimate Day of Reflection, not a recruitment day!
But, just in case you want to know more about this devotion even now, here is some information from the website holyfacedevotion.com.
Have you heard about the devotion of reparation to the Holy Face of Jesus? It is a devotion that was first heard of through a Carmelite Nun named Sister Mary of St. Peter in France, 1844, who stated Our Lord revealed this devotion to her at Mount Carmel. Sister Mary of St. Peter stated that Our Lord wanted this devotion to be spread throughout the world with the goal of making reparation for the sins which offend God.
When a man named Leo Dupont took this devotion and started practicing it privately in his home nearby, repeated first class miracles started occurring, which lasted for a period of over 30 years! This immediately became the talk of France, and attracted the attention of the Catholic Church, who investigated and publicly recognized the miracles as authentic. These miracles attest to the authenticity of the revelations from Our Lord to Sister Mary of St. Peter.
In 1885, to bring attention to the importance of this devotion, Pope Leo XIII established this special devotion as an Archconfraternity; and contrary to custom, He immediately established it for the ENTIRE WORLD. Note that numerous indulgences have been granted from several Popes, including Pope Pius IX and Pope Leo XIII, to those devoted to Devotion to the Holy Face of Jesus.
Note that Saint Therese of Lisieux was also very dedicated to this devotion, which prompted to take the name, "Therese of the Child Jesus and of the Holy Face". This devotion was universally practiced before World War I but unfortunately, has since become scarcely known. This website has been created in an attempt to revive this important devotion.
Many wonderful promises are attached to this devotion, which can be seen on our Revelations page in the menu above. To understand how this devotion came about and the miracles associated with it, see our Timeline page as well.
All remaining information on the Holy Face Devotion, including information on how to obtain a Holy Face Cross and chaplet to assist with this devotion, are available via the menu above.
The quoted website is ripe with information about this devotion. The prayers, the papal approbations, the miracles received, the image of the Holy Face (which we have hanging in our social hall, by the way, and which comes from Veronica’s veil, for Our Lord left an imprint of His Holy Face upon the veil which that holy and brave woman offered Him—wiping His Face as a tender and wondrous act of love—as He carried His Cross to Calvary) and so much more can easily be found there.
May our heartfelt prayers appease the Just anger of God. Let us make reparation for those who hate or are indifferent to Him and His children, so that even the most damnable among us may soon be resplendent with the grace of conversion.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Happy Father’s Day, Father Soares!
Last Sunday we were blessed to have the newly ordained Father Noel Soares, of the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter, preach our two Sunday morning Masses. He also celebrated the 10:30 Mass, the second “First Mass” of a priest we have had in this parish in the years I have been here. The last one was in 2015 when Father/Canon Jean-Baptiste Commins of the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, was first ordained. His parents and siblings were attending Epiphany at the time (they have since moved back to France) so we got him for at least the one special Mass. I expect we will see plenty more First Masses from the young men of our parish currently in their various seminaries as well as from many more who have yet to answer God’s call due to age or other temporarily interfering circumstances. Father Soares, after both Masses last Sunday gave his blessing to one and all. These blessings of a newly ordained priest have long been considered special. People kneel to receive the blessing, as is the norm in all Traditional blessings, then the priest presents the palms of his hands and they kiss those beautiful instruments of man’s salvation, a sign of reverence for the hands which a short time ago were covered with the oil of Chrism as the bishop consecrated his hands to perform miracles, naming specifically the Absolution of Sin in the sacrament of Confession and the substantial changing of bread and wine into the Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Those freshly consecrated hands are kissed with devotion, knowing that they perform glorious tasks which are necessary for getting us through this life and into Eternal Life in Heaven.
Although I haven’t found any of Fr. Soares writings online yet, I recently came across a paragraph from the young Canon Commins the year after he was ordained a priest. He wrote:
The Traditional Latin Mass: a love story!
I was 17 when I came to know and appreciate the Traditional Latin Mass. To discern my vocation, and to choose the seminary where to go, my first criterion was: “what is the degree of charity in that community?” between the members themselves, and with the other communities. You might ask yourselves: but what is the link, the relation between Charity and the Latin Mass? If we consider the Eucharist as the best proof of the love of God for us which it is, then we understand that all that covers the mystery of the Presence of Christ, blood, body, soul and divinity, has to be perfectly performed, with gravity, with beauty, with solemnity. The Traditional Liturgy makes clear the adoration of God made flesh, religion of the Incarnation, everything in that Liturgy lifts up our heart and our body to the most transcendent reality. The entire faculties of our human nature are satisfied, filled with the music, the silence, the incense, and the gestures. All our senses are attracted to the beauty of the Liturgy. The Spouse is giving himself to his Wife, our Mother the Church, and in response to that gift, the Church tries to express her love for Him. The Liturgy as the public official prayer of the Church, tries to imitate the eternal liturgy of the angels and of the saints in Heaven. To conclude this short note, let me quote Pope Benedict XVI: Sacred Liturgy transforms our lives of Catholics. Indeed, “the encounter with the beautiful can become the wound of the arrow that strikes the heart and in this way opens our eyes.”
The timing of this is perfect. Today we celebrate the External Solemnity of Corpus Christi. Hopefully, we will do it in the way described by that young priest who once blessed us with his First Mass so that the liturgical celebration helps one and all to fall more deeply in love with God, Who wrote us into his Love Story. God the Father so loved the world that not only did He create it (and us) but He also sent His Son to redeem us when redemption was beyond our grasp. The Son, offering everything for our sakes, suffered and died for our salvation, rose Body and Soul from the dead and ascended into Heaven where, out of “renewed” (if such a thing were possible for Him) eternal love, He continues to intercede for us to this very moment. The Father and the Son, rather than abandoning us to our own devices after this, jointly sent the Holy Spirit to not just dwell with us but to dwell within us, to make our bodies into temples of His Godhead, to make our souls into hospitable dwelling places for His perfect Love. With that Holy Spirit within us we, in a state of grace, are then able to not just communicate with God, but, more than that, to consume God in the form of the Holy Eucharist, that we may, in a mysterious way, become What we eat! The hands of the priest, once consecrated to do God’s saving work on Earth, bring forgiveness, hope, miracles, salvation, and even Love Himself to all men of goodwill, Mystically, if not physically, the amazing aroma of the Chrism still permeates each holy action of the priest, whether he is blessing, absolving, offering his First Mass, his Last Mass, or those in between.
Pray for the men God is calling to be priests, especially those from our own families. We currently have five in various stages of formation in diverse communities and many more who will follow them. The world needs holy priests; loving priests; Saints.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Corpus Christi Comes Twice Each Year!
This Thursday, June 16, is the actual Feast Day of Corpus Christi. We won’t be having an extra evening Mass for this important day but will simply have our regular morning Mass schedule because in the USA it is mandated that the following Sunday, June 19 this year, we are to celebrate it again as an External Solemnity. (This is a rather new—in Church years—indult, having been decreed in 1885!) Although this is only a mandate for the main Mass of the parish if it is a Sung Mass, we will be celebrating Corpus Christi at the low Mass, too. After the 10:30 Mass, as usual for this feast, we will have a procession around the church, stopping at several temporary altars as we go, giving Benedictions with the Blessed Sacrament to the people and the property all the way around. Some years we have had a light rain, other years it has been dry, but I believe that every year it has been hot and muggy, so be prepared! Bringing a handheld paper fan with you might be a very wise thing. You probably have several around, souvenirs from long ago trips, and have never used them for anything except maybe the young girls playing dress-up. You have time to find them if you read this during the homily on Trinity Sunday.
Of course, if you are at the 10:30 Mass on Trinity Sunday (June 12) you will probably put aside your regular homily escapes (and so might not read this until you find it scrunched up in the back seat of the car a few weeks too late), as we will have a newly ordained priest from the Priestly Fraternity of St. Peter celebrating one of his first Masses for you. Fr. Noel Soares, FSSP, has joined us for Mass several times during breaks in his seminary formation. He has a brother who lives in town and we are closer than the nearest FSSP parish, Christ the King, in Sarasota. If all goes as planned, this Mass will be a Solemn High Mass, with Fr. Mangiafico and yours truly taking the parts of Deacon and subdeacon. This brand new priest, still wet, not behind the ears, but, rather, wet with chrism on the palms of his hands from his ordination, sent a letter asking for, and receiving, a plenary indulgence for all the Faithful who attend his First Mass. This will be his first Mass here, so (probably) it applies to us as well! See the letter and rough translation below.
Beatissime Pater, Diaconus Natalis Soares, qui ad sacrum promovebitur presbyteratum, humiliter plenariam implorat indulgentiam pro fidelibus qui, vere paenitentes atque caritate compulsi, sese sacramentali confessione purificantes et ss. ma Eucharistia reficientes, preces demum ad mentem eiusem Sanctitatis Tuae pie fundentes, primae coram populo Oratoris Missae devote interfuerint. [RESPONSE] Paenitentiaria Apostolica, de mandato SS.mi Patris Francisci, propositis precibus lebenter annuit.
Ita fideles ad supernaturales virtutes, praesertim Fidei, Spei et Caritatis, magis semper in actum vitae traducendas instimulabuntur et solidabunt suam communionem cum Romano Pontifice, totius Catholicae Ecclesiae unitatis visibili fundamento,
Contrariis quibuscumque minime obstantibus.
Most Holy Father, Deacon Noel Soares, who will be promoted to the sacred priesthood, humbly begs for a plenary indulgence for the faithful who, truly penitent and driven by charity, purify themselves by sacramental confession and the reception of Holy Communion, and finally pouring out pious prayers for the intentions of Your Holiness, are present at the first Mass he celebrates devoutly before the people. [RESPONSE] The Apostolic Penitentiary, at the mandate of the Most Holy Father Francis, agrees with the prayers proposed.
Thus, the faithful will be increasingly encouraged to lead the supernatural virtues, especially of the Faith, Hope, and Charity into an act of life, and will strengthen their communion with the Roman Pontiff, the visible foundation of the unity of the entire Catholic Church,
Notwithstanding anything whatsoever to the contrary.
Now, back to Corpus Christi and External Solemnities. In the Novus Ordo calendar, Corpus Christi has been moved to Sunday, so it is celebrated just the one day. On that day, June 19, Bishop Parkes, joining the other bishops of our country, is kicking off a three-year National Eucharistic Revival with a 3:00 pm Holy Hour at the Cathedral of St. Jude. He would like each parish to send two parishioners to pray this Holy Hour. For what will you be praying? How about that people believe in the Eucharist as Our Lord told us? That they treat the Eucharist with the respect Jesus deserves? That priests believe and that they promote and celebrate reverent Masses? That Eucharistic Adoration would become once again a normal occurrence at parishes rather than a strange thing that only a few seemingly strange parishes do? Does that sound like Eucharistic Revival to you? Then sign up officially to represent Epiphany on that day!
As for the topic of External Solemnities, we have two more on the two Sundays immediately following the External Solemnity of Corpus Christi. June 26 we will celebrate the Sacred Heart and July 3 we will celebrate Sts. Peter and Paul, taking the place of the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Sundays after Pentecost, respectively. Before we get to any of them, perhaps you might do a little research to discover why each is important enough to “bump” a regular Sunday!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Letter From The Bishop
This week I received an email from Bishop Parkes regarding our parish’s participation in the Catholic Ministry Appeal, which replaced the Annual Pastoral Appeal this year. It was a form letter sent out to all parishes that fell below what he and his advisors were expecting as far as the percent of parishioner participation, the average contribution to the appeal per person, and the total amount pledged and collected. I cannot reproduce his letter here, since it was longer than would fit into this slot but I will give you the highlights.
Dear Father Palka,
As you know, last fall we introduced the Catholic Ministry Appeal. This new appeal replaced the Annual Pastoral Appeal as part of a clergy-led effort to lessen the financial burden on parishes and allow 100 percent of contributions to be used for important ministries and programs instead of diocesan administration.
Change is never easy, but I am proud of this transition and am delighted to say that the Catholic Ministry Appeal has been a resounding success so far. Across the diocese, participation is up with 500 more donors than this time in 2020 and 2021; and commitments and donations received are up by $500,000. However, as I said from the beginning, the ultimate success of the Catholic Ministry Appeal requires that every parish put forth their best effort.
I’m writing today because we have completed our active phase and have been looking at the results for all parishes in key categories: percent participation and percent of goal achieved.
Through this review, it appears the results of the Catholic Ministry Appeal at Epiphany of Our Lord vary from the success other parishes are achieving. This week’s reports show 7% of your parish families are participating, compared to national (20%), regional (19%) and diocesan (16%) trends. Additionally, your parish is 23% to goal ($21,460 raised of $94,368), suggesting the appeal may not have been communicated from the pulpit and/or an in-pew commitment weekend may not have been conducted as it was in other parishes.
...The premise in our change with the Catholic Ministry Appeal was for all parishes to put in a “best effort” to conduct a successful appeal. In doing so, parishes would not be assessed the balance as they had in the past. In addition, goals were reduced overall, making it likely for most, if not all, parishes to exceed goal...
The letter included both year to date and end of year statistics for our parish for the last two years of the APA. Year to date in 2021 and 2020 we had 7% participation and 5.4% participation respectively, for a two year average of 6.2%. This year our Catholic Ministry Appeal (CMA) participation is 7%, which is slightly above average. The average gift, though, has fallen from a $621 average to a $550 gift average per person this year. Also, although his letter says, “goals were reduced overall” our goals have gone up because, unlike the other parishes, our parishioner numbers keep going up! In 2020 our APA goal was $44,370. In 2021 it rose to $66,878. Our CMA goal is $94,368. We only have pledges of 23% of that goal, compared to 39% and 35% at this time during the past two years. Obviously, the Bishop wants us to pledge and collect more than we have done until now. He has “suggested” that I “send a personal letter to your parishioners who have not participated to date” and “host an in-pew promotion and commitment weekend.” The Stewardship Office will even “help” in writing the “personal letter” so that I get the wording right!
Before that letter gets to you, though, might I remind you of my opinion about this new CMA campaign so that you can ponder it deeply. As I told you at the beginning of the CMA campaign, I think the bishop is really taking a leap of faith in changing from the APA to the CMA. The APA goal was mandated to be paid, so if a parish did not make the goal through appeals to the parishioners, the diocese would simply take from the parish savings account whatever balance was still due at the end of the campaign. This new goal, on the other hand, does not come with a “bill due” invoice. Assuming that the pastor makes his “best effort” (which the letter from the bishop suggests has not been done at Epiphany up to now), if the goal is not met, it simply is not met as is not paid by the parish. Only if “best effort” is not made is the parish on the hook for the entire amount.
But better than that, the most amazing difference between the two appeals is that for the new one, you get to choose which specific ministries within the diocese you wish to support. If for any reason you don’t like how money is being spent in one area or for any project, you simply stipulate that your money will go elsewhere, to something that you can get behind 100%! If enough people, say, dislike project “Feel Good Doing Nothing Worthwhile” it won’t get financed through the appeal in the next fiscal year. The bishop will get insights into where the people think he is doing good stewardship and where he is off track based on what they support and what they don’t. Easy, informative, and effective!
Anyway, get ready for a letter coming soon. Or whenever they tell me to send it. I support this new diocesan way of raising needed money for its projects and I hope you are able to do so, too.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Can You Pass This Test?
On Saturday, we held a one day retreat for the children who are about to be confirmed. After a good beginning, with Mass, confessions, and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, we got down to business. I passed out a quiz to see just how much they already knew about the basics of Catholicism, so that I would know how best to aim the talks of the day. Most of you have already been confirmed and, after seeing the test results, I wonder how you would fare. So here goes. Take it if you dare!
—How many Gifts of the Holy Ghost are there? Name them. What is the purpose of each one?
—What are the 12 fruits of the Holy Ghost and where are they found in sacred scripture?
—Why do some lists only include 9 fruits of the Holy Spirit? (Tip: note the change from Holy Spirit to Holy Ghost!)
—What is the difference between a Gift and a Fruit of the Holy Ghost?
—Write out the 10 commandments.
—Name the 7 sacraments. Put an asterisk next to those which, once all are received, fully initiate a Catholic into the Church.
—Give the definition of a Sacrament.
—Answer (honestly!) yes or no to the questions below:
Can you recite the Our Father (Lord’s Prayer)?
Can you recite the Hail Mary?
Can you recite the Glory be?
Can you recite the Angelus?
Can you recite the Hail Holy Queen?
Can you recite the Blessing Before Meals?
Can you recite the Grace (thanksgiving) After Meals?
Can you recite the St. Michael the Archangel prayer?
Can you recite the Guardian Angel prayer?
Can you recite the Act of Contrition?
Can you recite the Apostles Creed?
Do you know all of the mysteries of the Rosary?
Do you know all of the Stations of the Cross?
Now, obviously this was not meant to be an in-depth examination of their Catholic knowledge. With the exception of the questions about the Gifts and Fruits of the Holy Ghost, which they certainly should have been studying in preparation for Confirmation, they (and you!) should have been able to breeze their way through the rest of the test. After all, I expect even our First Holy Communion recipients to know the basic prayers and to be able to list the 10 Commandments and seven Sacraments. How do you think they did? I cannot tell you here, since I had to write this for the bulletin before the retreat took place! I assume they all passed with flying colors. How did you do? Would you like to know the answers to the first questions?
—Which are the gifts of the Holy Ghost?
A. The gifts of the Holy Ghost are Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and Fear of the Lord.
—What purpose do these gifts serve?
A. The gifts of the Holy Ghost serve to establish us in Faith, Hope and Charity, and to render us prompt in the exercise of those acts of virtue necessary towards attaining the perfection of a Christian life.
—What is the Fear of the Lord?
A. The Fear of the Lord is a gift which makes us respect God and fear to offend His Divine Majesty, and which detaches us from evil while inciting us to good.
—Why do we receive the gift of Fear of the Lord?
A. We receive the gift of Fear of the Lord to fill us with a dread of sin. On account of the goodness of God and the punishment He can inflict.
—What is Piety?
A. Piety is a gift enabling us to venerate and love God and His Saints, and to preserve a pious and benevolent mind towards our neighbour for the love of God.
—Why do we receive the gift of Piety?
A. We receive the gift of Piety to make us love God as a Father, and obey Him because we love Him.
—What is Knowledge?
A. Knowledge is a gift enabling us to estimate created things at their proper worth, and to learn how to use them rightly and to direct them to our last end, which is God.
—Why do we receive the gift of Knowledge?
A. We receive the gift of Knowledge to enable us to discover the will of God in all things.
—What is Fortitude?
A. Fortitude is a gift which inspires us with valour and courage to observe faithfully the holy law of God and of the Church, by conquering all obstacles and all the assaults of our enemies.
—Why do we receive the gift of Fortitude?
A. We receive the gift of Fortitude to strengthen us to do the will of God in all things. Some know the will of God--what they should do--but they have not the courage to follow the dictates of their conscience. For example, a person goes with bad company: the gift of knowledge will teach him that he should give it up; but the gift of fortitude will enable him to do what his conscience shows him to be right.
—What is Counsel?
A. Counsel is a gift by which, amidst the doubts and uncertainties of human life, we are enabled to recognise those things that redound more to God's glory, to our own salvation, and to that of our neighbour.
—Why do we receive the gift of Counsel?
A. We receive the gift of Counsel to warn us of the deceits of the devil, and of the dangers to salvation. The devil is much wiser than we are, and has much more experience, being among the people of the world ever since the time of Adam--about 6,000 years. He could therefore easily deceive and overcome us if God Himself by the gift of counsel did not enable us to discover his tricks and expose his plots. When at times we are tempted, our conscience warns us, and if we follow the warning we shall escape the sin. Counsel tells us when persons or places are dangerous for our salvation.
—What is Understanding?
A. Understanding is a gift which facilitates, as far as this is possible to mortal man, the understanding of the truths of faith and of the mysteries of God, which we are unable to know by the natural light of the intellect.
—Why do we receive the gift of Understanding?
A. We receive the gift of Understanding to enable us to know more clearly the mysteries of faith. "Mysteries," truths we could never know by reason, but only by the teaching of God; and the gift of understanding enables us to know better what His teaching means. The Apostles heard and knew what Our Lord taught, but they did not fully understand the whole meaning till the Holy Ghost had come.
—What is Wisdom?
A. Wisdom is a gift by which the mind is lifted up from earthly and transitory things, enabling us to contemplate things eternal, that is to say, God Himself, the eternal truth, and to relish and love Him, in which consists all our good.
—Why do we receive the gift of Wisdom?
A. We receive the gift of Wisdom to give us a relish for the things of God, and to direct our whole life and all our actions to His honor and glory.
I hope everyone passed the test!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: To Die For Wearing A Cassock
The other day I had to look up something in Canon Law (Church Law) to answer a question about the proper attire for priests and religious. Canon 669, under the section specifically dealing with religious, has two subsections. “§1 As a sign of their consecration and as a witness to poverty, religious are to wear the habit of their institute, determined in accordance with the institute’s own law. §2 Religious of a clerical institute who do not have a special habit are to wear clerical dress, in accordance with canon 284.” So Religious Brothers, Sisters, and Priests must wear a habit unless their order does not have one, in which case they are to wear the attire that their Bishop’s Conference determines is proper. Secular clergy have their own rules spelled out in Canon 284, which states, “Clerics are to wear suitable ecclesiastical dress, in accordance with the norms established by the Episcopal Conference and legitimate local custom.” Furthermore, Canon 288 establishes that, “Permanent deacons are not bound by the provisions of cann. 284..., unless particular law states otherwise.” So, as far as I can tell, permanent deacons can wear clerics or lay attire as they see fit. After reading these laws, the question naturally arises, “What has our Episcopal Conference determined to be the norm for priests and religious?”
I found that answer on the USCCB website under a heading simply labeled, “Canon 284 - Clerical Garb”. Here is what they determined to be proper:
On November 18, 1998, the Latin Rite de iure members of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops approved complementary legislation for canon 284 of the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Rite dioceses of the United States. The action was granted recognitio by the Congregation for Bishops in accord with article 82 of the Apostolic Constitution Pastor Bonus and issued by decree of the Congregation for Bishops signed by His Eminence Lucas Cardinal Moreira Neves, Prefect, and His Excellency Most Reverend Franciscus Monterisi, Secretary, and dated September 29, 1999.
Complementary Norm: The National Conference of Catholic Bishops, in accord with the prescriptions of canon 284, hereby decrees that without prejudice to the provisions of canon 288, clerics are to dress in conformity with their sacred calling. In liturgical rites, clerics shall wear the vesture prescribed in the proper liturgical books. Outside liturgical functions, a black suit and Roman collar are the usual attire for priests. The use of the cassock is at the discretion of the cleric. In the case of religious clerics, the determinations of their proper institutes or societies are to be observed with regard to wearing the religious habit.
As President of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops, I hereby decree that the effective date of this decree for all the Latin Rite dioceses in the United States will be December 1, 1999.
Given at the offices of the National Conference of Catholic Bishops in Washington, DC, on November 1, 1999.
Most Reverend Joseph A. Fiorenza
Bishop of Galveston-Houston
Reverend Monsignor Dennis M. Schnurr
I write this today to remind you that just because I wear a cassock doesn’t mean that all priests must do the same. Although I am within my rights to wear it, I am neither “the norm” nor “abnormal”! For secular priests (and religious priests whose orders have no habit), “a black suit and Roman collar are the usual attire.” Not to be too picky, but notice that a suit is the norm, not just a short sleeve shirt with a collar! Therefore, please don’t look askance at any priest just because he doesn’t wear a cassock. On the other hand, don’t let anyone berate a priest for wearing one, as if he was breaking Church law, either! But for those priests and religious who wear neither habit nor collars, at least give them a good-natured poke in the ribs!
I put this out the week before the May 29 feast day of Rolando Rivi, one of my favorite Blesseds. It has been a few years since I last wrote about him, and many of you may not know who he is. In short, he was a young Italian boy who wanted to be a priest. He was in seminary for that purpose and wore his cassock with honor, as it showed that he was dedicating his life to Jesus Christ. In 1945, at the age of 14, he was beaten and shot to death by communists, who targeted him simply because he wore his cassock. In their words while killing him they showed their hatred of all that Rolando held dear, "Tomorrow one priest less." He died praying for his father and mother. On April 4, 2001, a young boy was cured of leukemia through his intercession, leading to his beatification. I encourage you to find out more. And may his story inspire the boys and young men of our parish to desire the priesthood with such relish, even if they decide to wear a black suit and Roman collar instead of a cassock! Blessed Rolando Rivi, pray for us.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Please Help With Confessions!
How can lay people help with confessions? Only priests can hear confessions, after all. Well, that brings me to problem number one for which I need your assistance. Anyone, not just a priest, can hear confessions. Only the priest can absolve you after your confession, but anyone else can certainly hear it! For instance, people who sit or stand too close to the confessional may, indeed, overhear confessions, especially if the person confessing is loud. (People who are hard of hearing often speak loudly without realizing it. Also, a priest who is hard of hearing may need you to speak loudly so that he can hear and understand your confession.) Anyone who, for whatever reason, overhears someone else’s confession is bound to the seal of confessional secrecy. But people trust the priest to keep secrets a whole lot more than they trust the “average Joe” who is standing outside the confessional door. I bring this up because people have been noticing (and worrying about) people who insist, for whatever reason, on sitting in the very last pews right outside the confessional door on the left (looking to the rear of the church) or even in the choir stalls on the other side of the church. Can you hear what is said from there? It doesn’t matter! People think you can! Be cognizant that privacy is a very important part of confession and you shouldn’t sit close to the confessional, for even if you cannot hear what is said, people may make bad confessions if they are worried that you can.
That leads to the second way I need your help with confession. Because confessions are heard during Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament and people rightly don’t want to turn their back on Our exposed Lord as they wait for their turn in the confessional, we have our confession line start in the pew in front of the choir area rather than having you stand in the aisle looking towards the confessionals. This keeps you a nice distance from the confessional so that you cannot hear what is said and it allows you to face Our Lord in the monstrance (most of the time) or the tabernacle as you prayerfully prepare to confess. But it also means that you cannot see when the person in front of you leaves the confessional and they often “sneak out” without you knowing it. Please, if you are the next one in line, turn around and watch so that you know when it is your turn. It is not disrespectful to Our Lord if you do so. Very often the priest (Fr. Mangiafico and I are the usual priests hearing confessions) waits many minutes between confessions even if there are twenty people waiting in line, all because the next person isn’t paying any attention. This is also a reminder that sometimes there are two priests hearing confessions, so watch both confessionals!
This also leads to a third way I need your help with confessions. Please be in line for confession. Very often when there are two priests hearing confessions one will be done before the other. He will leave when the line is finished. But then twenty more people come who were not in line and the other priest is there for another hour by himself. We also get chased down quite often, after we have left the confessional, by people who were eating donuts rather than lining up. Not too many Sundays ago I had five people race up to me begging for confession when I was between the confessional and the sacristy. That is, I left and returned to the confessional five times for five different people who caught me as I was walking through the church or social hall on my way to the sacristy. Five! I would like to just say “tough luck, try again next week” (remember, I am a grouchy old priest) but I don’t want somebody in mortal sin (which may or may not be the case) to have to wait for absolution just because demons managed to convince them that donuts were more important than confession for just a few minutes. Please get in line if you want confession!
Finally, spend your time in line actually preparing for confession! It seems like a no-brainer but it must not be. Many people, after confessions have been going on for quite some time so I assume that they have been in line, come in quite unprepared. “Just a minute, Father, I’m not done, I’m just thinking of my sins!” Oh, what a terrible thing to say, since by it you are basically admitting that you just spent the last 30 minutes in line just grumbling about how long the people in front of you are taking rather than praying that God would allow you to remember all of your sins and to be truly sorry for them!
And, as a bonus request, parents, once again I beg you to see if your children have any clue whatsoever about how to confess! Test them! Priests cannot tell you (remember the seal?) that your children (and not just the youngest ones!) are coming in not knowing to make the sign of the cross, not knowing to say “Bless me, Father, for I have sinned. It has been this long since my last confession,” not knowing if they have committed any sins, or not knowing the act of contrition (or even how to read one), but it happens all too often! Don’t assume that just because they go into the confessional regularly that they are actually confessing!
Thank you for your help with confessions!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Roe v. Wade May Be Overturned
As you must know by now, a leaked draft from the US Supreme Court is showing that the Justices may overturn the horrible piece of judicial legislation, called Roe v. Wade, through which their predecessors managed to inflict the evil of “legal” abortion upon the nation. Anyone who has ever looked at any information about that evil ruling, whether they were in favor of making it legal to kill babies or against it, knew that the Supreme Court made this unjust law out of whole cloth, that is, they made up a reason to present abortion as if it were Constitutional when everyone—everyone!—knew darned well it wasn’t. The new ruling, if it actually comes to light as the draft is written, shows the audacity of the previous Justices in taking such power by brute force and lies. Everyone—everyone!—knows that the baby in the womb of the mother is actually a baby. Everyone—everyone!—knows that killing the baby and calling it abortion is simply a way of adults avoiding consequences (and losing the benefits!) of their own sexual actions or of those of their post-pubescent children. Abortion—murder of the most helpless and most innocent of all humans—is an evil that cries to Heaven (Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 1867) but is accepted, ignored, rationalized, defended, and promoted, all due to a greater desire for one’s own short term relief than for one’s own long tern benefit, the benefit of mankind, and, ultimately, God’s love. Those who support (in any way) abortion would rather go to hell than deal with the hardships of having living children to raise, or to be given up for adoption.
Be mindful that it is not only the mothers of the dead babies of whom I write. Often, it seems that they are pawns in a chess game being played by everyone they trust, with Satan himself controlling the board. No, there are many, many more people who have an even greater share in the responsibility for the murder of the unborn children. The Catechism of the Catholic Church lists several ways in which people “cooperate” in the sins committed by others and, thus, as is in the case of abortion, are themselves guilty of mortal sin and both the temporal and eternal consequences of that mortal sin! CCC 1868 lists four ways in which this happens. First: “by participating directly and voluntarily in them.” So the doctor, nurses, and everyone else who works in the abortuary; the one who pays for it; and clinic landlords are all morally responsible for these mortal sins.
Second: “by ordering, advising, praising, or approving them.” That would include all of those people whom the pregnant girl should be able to turn to for good advice and assistance, but who rather encourage her to kill her child. Included here might be the man/boy who impregnated her; parents and grandparents and other relatives and friends of either the male or the female involved; school counselors and teachers; those who write, publish, display, or distribute such things as Planned Unparenthood brochures; those who vote for pro-death political candidates or who support pro-death political parties or social organizations; the “friend” who drives the girl to the clinic as a supposed act of compassion; the people who say something to the effect of, “I would never do it myself...,” or “I am personally opposed...,” but then concludes with “but who am I to judge?” or “but I won’t let my religious views interfere,” or anything similar. Also included are certainly all politicians who vote pro-death; all societal and religious leaders who champion abortion; everyone and anyone who tolerates, promotes, encourages, orders, or advises the use of contraceptives; the office-holders, representatives, and lobbyists of pro-abortion unions, such as public school teachers unions, and those who willingly pay dues to such extremist groups; journalists, reporters, and decision-makers in main stream media; medical personnel who, even if they don’t perform abortions, willingly refer “patients” for them; and finally (although there are many more examples, I end this section with this one) everyone who, by means of the backdoor, so to speak, supports abortion for reasons such as “Keeps them off the welfare rolls...,” or “Better than having another unwanted child in this world...,” or “They probably would have been raised as criminals anyway...,” or “It solves overpopulation...”. You get the picture. A lot of people commit mortal sin in this area.
The third way of being responsible for others’ abortion is “by not disclosing or not hindering them when we have an obligation to do so.” Once again, family, friends, and others close to the couple who know what is going to happen or might happen, yet remain silent so that it can happen, are in mortal sin.
And listed fourthly as a way people are responsible for the mortal sins of abortion, “by protecting the evil-doer.” The ones who keep it secret from parents; who don’t turn in the incestuous father of the child (allowing his crime to be covered up through destruction of the “evidence”); the judges, police, and politicians who combat pro-lifers rather than the pro-deathers; and those who protect and defend the “rights” of all of the above listed people as if they were noble.
Importantly, religious, deacons, priests, and bishops who refuse to preach and teach about the evil of abortion or to correct those under their authority who fit any of the above 4 criteria are even more responsible than anyone else listed above.
But there is hope. God is infinitely loving and will forgive anyone for anything, provided they truly repent. The confessional is just about the best place in the world!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Glimpse Into Spiritual Motherhood
Although we have the Spiritual Mothers praying for priests every Wednesday, many of you might not know that the origins of this group (and others like it) comes from a document from the Congregation For The Clergy. Promulgated on the Feast of The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary, December 8, 2007,entitled “Adoration, Reparation, Spiritual Motherhood For Priests.” This document is very unique, in that it is a Church document that is a pleasure to read! In preparation for Mother’s Day, I have reproduced below the short “introductory story” and just one more to whet your appetite. I highly recommend that you read the whole thing. You need not be a theologian to enjoy this document!
“I have my mother to thank for what I have become and the way that I got there!”- St. Augustine
Independent of age or social status, everyone can become a mother for priests. This type of motherhood is not only for family mothers, but is just as valid for an unmarried girl, for a widow, or for someone who is ill. It is especially pertinent for missionaries and religious sisters who have given their lives entirely to God for the sanctification of others.
Every priest has a mother and often she is a spiritual mother for her children as well. Giuseppe Sarto, for example, the future Pope Pius X, visited his 70-year-old mother after being ordained a bishop. She kissed her son’s ring and, suddenly pensive, indicating her own simple silver wedding band said, “Yes, Giuseppe, you would not be wearing that ring if I had not first worn mine.” Pope St. Pius X rightfully confirms his experience that, “Every vocation to the priesthood comes from the heart of God, but it goes through the heart of a mother!”
The little village of Lu, northern Italy, with only a few thousand inhabitants, is in a rural area 90 kilometres east of Turin. It would still be unknown to this day if, in the year 1881, the family mothers of Lu had not made a decision that had “serious consequences”.
The deepest desire of many of these mothers was for one of their sons to become a priest or for a daughter to place her life completely in God’s service. Under the direction of their parish priest, Msgr. Alessandro Canora, they gathered every Tuesday for adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, asking the Lord for vocations. They received Holy Communion on the first Sunday of every month with the same intention. After Mass, all the mothers prayed a particular prayer together imploring for vocations to the priesthood.
Through the trusting prayer of these mothers and the openness of the other parents, an atmosphere of deep joy and Christian piety developed in the families, making it much easier for the children to recognize their vocations.
Did the Lord not say, “Many are called, but few are chosen” (Mt 22:14)? In other words, many are called, but only a few respond to that call. No one expected that God would hear the prayers of these mothers in such an astounding way.
From the tiny village of Lu came 323 vocations!:152 priests (diocesan and religious), and 171 nuns belonging to 41 different congregations. As many as three or four vocations came from some of these families. The most famous example is the Rinaldi family, from whom God called seven children. Two daughters became Salesian sisters, both of whom were sent to San Domingo as courageous, pioneer missionaries. Five sons became priests, all joining the Salesians. The most well-known of the Rinaldi brothers is Blessed Philip Rinaldi, who became the third successor of St. John Bosco as Superior General of the Salesians. Pope John Paul II beatified him on 29 April 1990. In fact, many of the vocations from this small town became Salesians. It is certainly not a coincidence, since St. John Bosco visited Lu four times during his life. The saint attended the first Mass of his spiritual son, Fr. Philip Rinaldi in this village where he was born. Philip always fondly recalled the faith of the families of Lu: “A faith that made our fathers and mothers say, ‘The Lord gave us our children, and so if He calls them, we can’t say no.’”
Fr. Luigi Borghina and Fr. Pietro Rota lived the spirituality of Don Bosco so faithfully that the former was called the “Brazilian Don Bosco” and the latter the “Don Bosco of Valtellina”. Pope John XXIII once said the following about another vocation from Lu, His Excellency, Evasion Colli, Archbishop of Parma: “He should have become pope, not me. He had everything it takes to become a great pope.”
Every ten years, the priests and sisters born in Lu come together from all around the world. Fr. Mario Meda, the long-serving parish priest of Lu, explained that this reunion is a true celebration, a feast of thanksgiving to God who has done such great things for Lu.
The prayer that the mothers of Lu prayed was short, simple, and deep:
“O God, grant that one of my sons may become a priest!
I myself want to live as a good Christian
and want to guide my children always to do what is right,
so that I may receive the grace, O God, to be allowed to give you a holy priest! Amen.”
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: First, Middle, and Last Holy Communion
Next weekend we have children making their First Holy Communion at both Sunday Masses. Before receiving Our Lord in the Most Blessed Sacrament for the first time they have been studying and examining many of the Catholic Church teachings, especially those dealing with the sacraments of reconciliation or confession, and of the Holy Eucharist. For the most part, each of the children had already been exposed to the most important teachings simply through observation while at Mass, or by tagging along with mom and dad when they went to confession, and other such normal things Catholic families do. But even so, deeper understanding often is sought with great enthusiasm when there is an important goal in mind, and, since the goal of receiving Holy Communion is to give greater glory to God and to receive extra grace even unto Eternal Life, children preparing for this “event” go at it with great gusto. But how about the adults? After receiving Our Lord countless times over many years or decades, do they ever go back to school, so to speak, and, with the eagerness of a second grader look more closely at what they are doing? Those receiving Communion for the second, last, or in-between times should occasionally brush up on basics, too.
First off let me remind you of the very basic truth that all must know and believe. Jesus said, “Amen, amen I say unto you: Except you eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, you shall not have life in you. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath everlasting life: and I will raise him up in the last day. For my flesh is meat indeed: and my blood is drink indeed. He that eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, abideth in me, and I in him.” Throughout the remainder of the Bread of Life Discourse in the sixth chapter of John’s Gospel, Jesus made it clear that the Eucharist was to be not simply a symbol of His body and blood but was to actually be Him. He is both man and God, so in the Eucharist we know that the fullness of His manhood (man is composed of body, blood, and soul) and the fullness of His Godhead (His Divinity) is to be found. The priest, consecrating wheat bread (unleavened in the Latin Church) and grape wine, procures, through the power of God, a substantial change in those simple foods, and, although the “accidents” remain, the very substance of bread and wine are changed into the very substance of Jesus; His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity. He did not explain the details about how this “Transubstantiation” would happen, but He was very clear that it would happen. At the Last Supper, He was very clear who would make this happen (his apostles, the first priests and bishops of His Church, and their successors) and when they would do so (the fulfillment of the Passover Meal was the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass). Jesus offered His true self (not a symbol) on the cross. Only by that offering can we be saved; can we have eternal life. The Mass brings that same sacrifice to us in an unbloody manner, and it is through full participation in this sacrifice, including consuming (in a state of grace) the true Lamb of God that takest away the sins of the world, Who was slain and Who rose again, that we receive eternal life.
It is also helpful, almost necessary, to know about “Concomitance.” By this term, the Church means to explain that, although the one offering the sacrifice (the priest) must consume both Species, that is, both the consecrated Bread and the consecrated Wine, in order to complete the sacrifice, the rest of the people need not receive under both Species to receive the fullness of Jesus. For one can be assured that the fullness of Jesus, His Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity, is contained in either Species, in fact, in the smallest particle or droplet of either Species.
Before we receive Him in Holy Communion, though, we must first of all believe that He is really the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity and that what He says is true. For if He is not God, or if He is a god who speaks falsehoods, it would be an abominable thing to receive communion, for it would be unholy and a sacrilege. But if He is Whom He both claimed and proved Himself to be — God — then we must approach Holy Communion in fear and trembling! We must confess our sins and allow Him to cleanse our soul before we dare to approach and consume the Sacred Host. Moreover, we must put aside our natural eyes and gaze upon the Host with eyes of Faith and say with the apostle Thomas, “My Lord and my God!” while those without Faith will see only bread and wine even after the consecration.
Knowing that It is the Bread of Life, the True Bread from Heaven which we are to receive at Mass, we must fast from all natural food and drink (water and medicine excluded) for a minimum of one hour before receiving this supernatural food. We must never hunger for food that nourishes only our bodies in the same way as that true Food that gives us Eternal Life.
Finally, don’t forget to stay and say your prayers of thanksgiving after Mass! Rushing to receive coffee, milk, and donuts without first saying at least an “Anima Christi” would seem to make a mockery out of the fast before the Mass!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Happy Easter especially to those who have fallen away!
Easter Sunday is one of the biggest days of the Church year in more ways than one. First of all, it is the day proof positive that Jesus is the Son of God, the Messiah, the One who fulfills all of the prophecies of the Old Testament, the Savior of the world. He was not simply resuscitated, coming back to the same life as He had before, but rather Resurrected, coming back to a whole new manner of life. This new life is one that we all plan on participating in, one with a completely glorified human body and a perfect human soul, sharing in His divinity for all eternity in the splendor of Heaven.
But Easter is also one of the biggest days of the Church year as far as bringing back fallen away Catholics. This column is specifically aimed at you if you fall into that category. Perhaps you don’t consider yourself a fallen away Catholic, though, unless you have been away from the Church and Her sacraments for a period of years or even decades. I, however, am including you in this category if you have been away from the Church and Her sacraments even if just for a period of one or two weeks!
You see, it is only in remaining in direct contact with God in this life that we can possibly hope to be in direct contact with Him in the next. He unites Himself with us totally in the seven Sacraments. These channels of grace are the primary paths of supernatural love, mercy, and strength that He has given us. Rejecting them by, say, purposefully missing Mass for even one Sunday or Holy Day of Obligation, not to mention years at a time, says without words, “Jesus, You died for my salvation, yet I reject Your Holy Sacrifice; You offer Heaven, but I prefer Hell.” Faking a sacrament says the same thing. Instances of this would include faking the sacrament of Holy Matrimony through sex outside of marriage (with others or self) or by getting “married”, perhaps even legally, without the blessing of the Church; or faking the sacrament of Confession by pretending to “go directly to God” while rejecting the absolution He offers through His priests.
Still more instances of rejecting or faking sacraments, which happen not infrequently, include failing to Baptize children, by which parents withhold the supernatural graces necessary for salvation; failure to receive Confirmation, which shows that “mature” Catholics think they have no need of the Gifts of the Holy Ghost; receiving Holy Communion in a state of mortal sin, which is akin to tossing Jesus into a cesspool; rejecting God’s call to Holy Orders or the religious life; or delaying the Sacrament of the Sick to avoid “scaring” the dying loved one. All of these are serious sins! But why point out these dangers to the soul on such a holy day? Because there is an incredible means of repairing any damage to your relationship with God coming up next week. I want to reach the “fallen aways” today so that I can invite all of you to next week’s Divine Mercy celebration.
Next Sunday, Low Sunday, is also Divine Mercy Sunday. About a century ago, our Lord Jesus appeared to Sister (now Saint) Faustina and told her of an incredible outpouring of His Mercy that He would make available to anyone, even the most hardened of sinners or the most naively innocent “fallen away” Catholic, on the Sunday after Easter. He will offer complete remission of sin (and even its due punishment!) to all who will spend just a little bit of time meditating on, praying for, and acting in accordance to, His Mercy. He has made it so easy to get back into His grace (and thereby headed for Heaven once again) that it would seem to be too good to be true if it weren’t Jesus who made the promise.
Hardened sinners, those who have knowingly committed grave sins for long periods of time, may have despaired of ever being able to become a Saint. Divine Mercy Sunday is God’s gift to them so that they can be forgiven and made holy. The other fallen away Catholics, those who don’t really see much wrong with their immoral actions, even though they know the Church calls them mortal sins, can also find the supernatural graces that they have been unknowingly missing out on.
Come next Sunday afternoon at 2:30. We will recite the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. I will hear confessions and absolve repentant sinners. No sin is too great to be removed; no sinner who repents is too evil to be loved and brought back to a state of Grace. Afraid of lightning striking? But you will die in a state of grace and go to Heaven! Examine your conscience. Repent of all known sins. Confess those sins. Do your penance. Remember the Scripture passage, “I say to you, that even so there shall be joy in heaven upon one sinner that doth penance, more than upon ninety-nine just who need not penance”! You will receive Divine Mercy! Jesus promises that your soul will be pure once again. He loves you that much. Holy Mother Church offers a plenary indulgence to those who participate in this devotion and fulfill the three normal conditions (sacramental confession, Holy Communion, and prayers for the intentions of the Supreme Pontiff). The homebound, sick (and their caretakers), and others not able to make it, meeting those last 3 conditions, may recite the Our Father and the Creed before an image of Our Merciful Lord Jesus and pray for mercy (e.g. Merciful Jesus, I trust in you).
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Holy Week 2022 and My Vacation
This is Holy Week. We will have extra confessions, Tenebrae services, Mass of the Lord’s Supper, the Good Friday Passion and Veneration of the Cross, the traditional Blessing of Easter Baskets (or, rather, the blessing of the Easter foods within them!), and, of course, the Easter Vigil service and Mass. Last year, since Fr. Tuoc was still unable to return to Vietnam due to covid restrictions, he did many of these in the Novus Ordo Form (in English) in the rectory chapel while they were also being done in the Traditional Form in Latin in the church. He may do the same again this year, as he is still around and active here. Watch the bulletin and web page (EpiphanyTampa.com) for the schedule. Remember, even the daily Mass schedule changes for Holy Week, so pay attention! Since you can find more information on each of these online and elsewhere in this very bulletin, I will not go into further details here.
Instead, I will write a bit about where I have been for the past month. After I returned, I was peppered with questions about where I went, what I did, and if I enjoyed myself. So here are a few little bits in response. First of all, as I told you before I left, I was not going to go to any place where I had to wear a mask or prove a jab, or get a swab. That ruled out any journey on a plane or cruise ship. I wasn’t even sure which state I could enter without getting pressured into such nonsense, so, of course, I stayed in Florida. I was offered a little “hermitage” or a small apartment built next to the garage under a house on stilts just south of St. Augustine. The lovely couple that lives in the house work with a religious order based in Italy and they made this place specifically to house visiting priests when they come to assist in their mission. It was quite comfortable and secluded. Overlooking a saltwater marsh, I saw plenty of ospreys, an owl, and even a bald eagle searching for their meals. There were no neighbors in sight, just nature. They had a little chapel which I set up for the TLM and celebrated Mass every morning upon waking. I usually prayed the first hours of the breviary right after Mass and then went for a walk. The beach (which was very, very sparsely populated) was about a half a mile’s walk from the house. A mile or so of walking the beach and a half a mile back made for a great rosary. I did learn that I had to check the tides, though, as high tide forced me to walk through soft sand instead of the packed sand, and that made it a lot of work rather than a nice walk.
It was a 35-45 minute drive to the historic section of St. Augustine, so I visited the Shrine of Our Lady of Le Leche and the rest of the area on a regular basis. The church near the shrine has confession and Adoration daily, so I took advantage of it regularly. I was also able to visit a number of other parishes in the area and even found a Carmelite Monastery which had a drive-through Stations of the Cross and Rosary Garden. Very unique.
Bike Week in Daytona Beach, which evidently lasts nearly two weeks, started just as I began my time off. A1A makes for a beautiful, leisurely ride from the northeast, so there were hundreds of motorcycles on the roads and packing each restaurant parking lot. I never saw any bikers in the Shrine, but I met quite a few while getting something to eat or visiting State Parks and such things as forts and the ruins of sugar mills. Most bikers were very respectful (of course, I was in cassock, even while walking the beach or on the nature trails, so they knew I was a priest) and I got to hear some great stories from some of them about their good ol’ days as altar boys. For instance, one Sunday morning I went out to breakfast (something I never get a chance to do here!) after an early Mass in my chapel. I went to an ocean-side food truck which always had a lot of people around it other times I had passed by. I ordered a breakfast sandwich and coffee and started walking past a young couple at the closest picnic table. They nodded. Then the only other person there so early in the morning called out to me, “Father! Come sit here with me!” A biker with a leather vest covered with skulls was sitting by himself and motioning me to join him. After reciting the almost-compulsory “Ad Deum, qui laetificat iuventutem meam'' (which always brings great grins to men when they realize/prove that they still remember their responses) he told me a short version of his life since leaving the Lord’s service at the altar. Although still dressed for intimidation, he was trying to finally change his life, be a good husband, and come back to God and His Church. Will I ever see him again? I doubt it. But maybe, just maybe, I was able to be a good part of his re-entry into Grace. It’s been quite a few years since I rode a motorcycle, but maybe there is a need for a biker priest in cassock!
This is necessarily just a small smattering of how I spent my time but mostly, for a month when there was nothing scheduled on my calendar, I did a lot of nothing!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: How to Vacation in Lent
As I told you last week, I am now on a Lenten Vacation in a small hermitage. Since Lent has begun and you are no longer watching TV, scrolling through Factcheckbook, compulsively tweeting and twaddling, playing video games, or using electronic devices in any way, you have nothing better to do than to read about my life! So I figured that, although I am on vacation, I could write and tell you what I am experiencing so far. So, sit back in your pew and try to pretend like you are listening to the homily and read the story of my first impressions of the hermitage.
After the Ash Wednesday morning Masses, Adoration, confessions, and Benediction, I wanted to avoid stopping at the office one last time. I tried to sneak around the far side of the school and cut through the soccer field so as to avoid being seen because I knew that if the office staff caught me, they would have “emergencies” which I “had to” take care of before I could get on the road. But Kim and Mark are way too smart for me. They were simply waiting at the rectory front door, each with a sheaf of papers which needed signatures, approval, acknowledgment, etc., plus the last twenty or so urgent voicemails of people who absolutely, positively, had to see me before I took off. So, I dutifully signed a dozen more checks, filled out forms, muttered, “uh huh” a few hundred times as they blathered on about things that I wasn’t listening to anyway, and finally just pointed behind them and yelled, “Squirrel!” before making a mad dash around the corner of the house and jumping into the car, which Fr. Dorvil had pulled up and left running in a mostly successful attempt to allow my escape, for he knew that I could be held there for hours if he didn’t come to my rescue.
Kim was surprisingly spry and caught up to my Pilot as I took off. She managed to grab the roof rack and it took me weaving back and forth through the cars in the church parking lot before I finally threw her off near the front gate. I saw in the rear-view mirror that she got up without any assistance and brushed herself off, so, guessing that she was alright, I headed out for my time off. If she is upset with me, I hope she gets over it before I return!
After speeding for the first few miles I slowed to a leisurely pace, jamming to a duet of Willie Nelson and Julio Iglesias chanting the Rosary in Latin, Spanish, and what Willie thinks is English. They explained at the beginning of the cassette tape (yes, my car is old enough to have a cassette player) that after collaborating on “To All The Girls I’ve Loved Before” they both realized that they each had only one girl whom they truly loved, and that was the Blessed Virgin Mary. This rosary tribute to Our Lady was done in a way that not only combined languages but also blended Gregorian Chant with Country and Pop. The reason I like it so much is that once you get it in your head, it stays there for days and St. Paul’s admonition to “pray always” is attained whether you want it to be ringing in your ears or not.
Alas, all good things must come to an end in this world, and I eventually made it to my destination. I had to stop the tape and pay close attention to my GPS to find the place. I was looking for a hermitage but didn’t really know what one would look like, so I thought the directions were off. The woman in the map kept saying, “You have arrived at...passed by your destination” when there was nothing but a swampy forest all around me. I was picturing the desert hermits who built themselves a little dwelling on the side of a cliff after finding a natural cave and moving in. But Florida doesn’t have any cliffs or mountains so there were no caves to be found. I finally saw a little-used trail through the saw palmettos and turned to drive into the wilderness. A few miles in I found the hermitage. It was perfect! It was little more than a rough-hewn hut with a door and two glass-less window openings. On the floor at the rear of the room was a mattress made of a burlap material stuffed with old, dry, vines, with a rock set for use as a pillow. Mosquito netting in desperate need of repair hung from the palm frond ceiling above. Along the side wall was a cedar plank altar and hand-carved reredos, simple but beautiful, especially in this rustic setting. A three-legged stool was the only piece of furniture. Outside there was a simple little “shed” with a half-moon on the door and a pile of corn cobs piled next to the seat inside. On the outside of that shed, a garden hose was hanging and the other end was draped into the swamp water a few yards away. It had a hand pump to bring the colorful, aromatic water through the hose and it worked quite nicely as a primitive shower. This is going to be one great Lent and vacation!
That’s about all I have for now. One thing I forgot to mention, though, is that there is obviously no electricity or wifi in the hermitage, so I had to write this article before I left for vacation. I usually tell you such things in the first few sentences...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka