From the Pastor: What’s the Plan?
It came in the mail this week. The form letter from the Diocese arrives every winter or early spring. “Do you wish to have a change of assignment?” it asks. “If so, why, and which parish would you like to be moved to?” It also asks if I would like to have an assistant priest (parochial vicar) or a deacon assigned to the parish if I am asking to stay. Then the more open-ended questions about how I am doing, do I need a sabbatical, am I cracking up, and such. To put an end to any wild speculation, let me tell you that I replied: I wish to stay at Epiphany. Why would I want to leave the best parish in the diocese/state/country? As for the parochial vicar request, of course I would like to have one! And send a deacon along with him! Sure, there will be a learning curve for each of them but if they are willing to accept the assignment, that is a sure sign that they are willing to delve more deeply into the lost traditions of our faith than they ever had to in seminary or other parishes. They will, I am sure, benefit from the TLM as much as I have, and will bring blessings to one and all.
As for the questions about my general health and happiness, I wrote that I am doing quite well. Although I didn’t add this on the reply form, I would like to take a sabbatical, I think. I see other priests doing it all the time. But I don’t want to go to Rome (a tremendous sabbatical place if there ever was one, with so much rich Catholic history and great professors to teach—assuming I find the right sabbatical program) but it is such a spiritually and politically dark place right now that I wouldn’t currently wish to spend any time there. I figure that a self-study sabbatical on one of those new privately owned condominium cruise ships might be a good place to be. I could cruise around the world for a year and hopefully convert a literal boatload of people by the time I was done. But that would mean taking a chance that they won’t implement the recently popular “less than worthless experimental dead baby shots” protocols along with mandatory suffocation devices during that trip. No, I won’t take that chance at this time. Heck, I could just go to Vatican City if I wanted that!
As for my health, since I wrote about trying to lose weight I have received three boxes of cookies and some very good chocolate, all with assurances that I am not too fat. Of course, I plan on eating them all even though I know that the people giving the gifts were lying! After all, that will keep their lies from being lies, right? I also see the hardships my dad is going through with his numerous bodily aches and pains and, as he so often reminds me, whatever happens to him now will happen to me in the future! So, relatively speaking (pun intended), I am in great health right now!
We now move on to a more serious, though related, issue. I have been inundated with links to articles and reports about a rumored upcoming Apostolic Exhortation that will greatly restrict the Traditional Latin Mass. I suppose it is good for you to know (or else I wouldn’t be writing this) that the rumors have been around for quite a while and are getting stronger now that Pope Benedict is “out of the way.” As far as I know, there is nobody who has first-hand knowledge about what exactly this rumored document contains who has spilled the beans, so all is second-, third-, and fourth-hand speculation at this point. “What are you going to do, Father?” is the recurring question. But I have no answer. I don’t know what the supposed document says, so I don’t know what is being asked of me. I don’t know what is being asked of the bishop. I don’t know what, if anything, is being demanded, rather than asked, either! “But don’t you have a plan?” No. At least not one that will satisfy the questioners. I plan to be a Catholic priest doing exactly what I am already doing in the parish where I am already doing it. I know, that seems like a boring plan, a plan to do nothing different, but why should I take on worries about something of which I know nothing with certitude? I have complete confidence that Jesus is still in charge of His Church. He is the one who made sure that, against all odds, I was ordained a priest. (And yes, thank you, Blessed Mother, for I know that you were interceding for me full time, and you, my guardian angel, were protecting me from both myself and a whole host of enemies my whole time in the seminary and beyond!) And it was He who made sure that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time (or right and right) so that I “had to” start celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass just to be faithful to another document that called on pastors to give this unknown-to-me Mass to the people if they asked for it. And it is He who made sure that this parish is not only surviving but thriving and leading people in the way of holiness, even as other parishes seem to be dying of self-inflicted wounds. So it is my firm conviction that no matter what document comes out and no matter what the world thinks is going to happen, He is still in charge. So please join me in following St. Padre Pio’s famous advice: Pray, hope, and don’t worry.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Losing Time and Gaining Weight!
For whatever reason, this Christmas season was the busiest yet. And no, I am not speaking only of myself but also on behalf of all of the people who have been busy at the parish as well. It seems that from the beginning of October (when the preparations for Cardinal Burke’s Mass began in earnest) until today the calendar has not ceased to be filled, whether with pre-scheduled events and meetings or with phone calls and knocks on the door when there seemed to be a free moment. As such, I am still trying to catch up with texts and emails (two inventions of the devil, as if there ever was a need for proof that he exists, as people expect immediate responses even to messages in which they don’t ask for or need one), snail mail (a Godsend, for people sending letters and cards don’t wait by the mailbox breathlessly waiting for a return response!), and even Christmas gifts. I have two gifts wrapped and ready to go to family members but due to emergencies when we were getting together, I wasn’t able to see everyone. I also have cards, bags, and wrapped gifts from you that are still unopened. I occasionally try to make time for them but something always comes up that takes me away, and it isn’t Calgon. So I open a few cards here, unwrap a package there, and set the rest aside for the next time I have a few extra minutes. I know I will never have time to write “Thank You’ notes this year but please know that I am truly grateful for all of the wonderful notes and family photos and other things you have sent. This year I think that I have managed to open all of the gifts that people told me contained food, so, unlike what happened last year, I don’t think that I will have any odoriferous surprises waiting for me hidden under brightly colored tissue paper!
Last week the bulletin contained an article about my New Year’s Resolution to lose weight. That article was actually a recycled one from several years ago, as I simply ran out of time and didn’t have a new article written by the time the bulletin needed to be published. But it is still quite timely, since I am still in need of losing weight. I have been trying, sometimes with more willpower than other times, to lose weight for quite a while. I had an old bathroom scale that I weighed myself on daily a couple of years back. But then, after losing some weight and coming to the dreaded barrier beyond which my fat would not venture, I decided to put it away for a few days. The days become weeks, then months, and soon I “forgot” about it altogether. Then a few months ago I took it back out and started the weighing process all over again. This time I was quite surprised. I wasn’t nearly as heavy as I expected. I started in earnest refusing snacks and cookies and cakes and all the other goodies which are constantly trying to force their way into my mouth. My weight would vary up and down a pound or two daily but overall kept going down. I wondered, though, if the scale might be off a bit when it started acting up. It wouldn’t start at zero when I first turned it on, but would show “- .2 lbs.” I changed the batteries. No help. I tried to find a way to calibrate it. No adjustments available. But I figured that as long as it was off by the same amount every day, it really shouldn’t matter, for that little bit was almost nothing anyway. But then it started showing different numbers: minus .6, minus .8, plus 1.2, etc. I finally tried weighing myself several times in a row and it would show different weights with each try. Then, it started showing that I had either gained or lost four or more pounds every day. The day that I was up 10 pounds after being down 7 pounds the previous day is the day I ordered a new scale.
It took a few weeks to arrive, being delivered just after Christmas. Although it looked like it was in remarkable shape, with no visible signs of scratches or dents, I believe it must have been malfunctioning, as you shall see. The instruction manual simply said, “Don’t step on the scale until it has calibrated itself or the measure will be off” and, sure enough, it calibrated itself and then showed “0.0” on the display. But wouldn’t you know it, I was up twenty pounds—20 pounds!—from the “plus 10 pounds” weight showing on the old scale. I think that either it was broken or else I must have eaten a few too many farm fresh eggs (yeah, it’s those darn eggs making my belly look like I swallowed a pterodactyl egg whole!) over Christmas. I know it couldn’t have been the chocolates or mint or cookies that I started eating once the old scale was put out to pasture (writes the priest who just had to wipe Chocolate Mint Bark off his keyboard), for those are all very small and light and flat, so surely they are low in calories, too, and would help me get a flat belly. Yep, the extra weight has to be from the eggs. Or a broken scale. That’s most likely it. The new scale is just mocking me!
Assuming though, that I am really just too fat, I need to discover how to swap time and weight. Then I would be a thin priest with all the time in the world!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Epiphany Eve Blessing of Holy Water and More!
Our parish feast day, January 6, falls on Friday of this week, which is also First Friday. We will celebrate Masses of Epiphany of Our Lord that morning at the regular Friday times of 6:30 and 8:00 followed by the special Epiphany Blessings of chalk, gold, frankincense, and myrrh. The chalk will be used to mark the door lintels of the church, rectory, and, of course, of your homes. Because we are not a parish where everyone lives within walking distance of the church, I will not be able to visit your houses to bless them. But we will once again give out a sheet of prayers asking God’s blessing upon your home and those who live there. Pray the prayers, mark the doors with the blessed Epiphany chalk (20 + C + M + B + 23), sprinkle the house and family with Epiphany Holy water, and you should be protected for another year! Bring in any extra chalk, gold, frankincense, and myrrh if you want to have them blessed. If you wish to leave blessed gold and frankincense at the church, I am sure we can put them to good use! Please note that I will not be blessing other items that morning, so don’t bring other articles. Following the blessing, we will have our normal First Friday Adoration, ending with 6:00 pm Vespers and Benediction.
But although that is the Epiphany Day schedule, there is still more to put on your calendar. (This is a good time for me to write that we will not be putting out an Epiphany parish calendar this year. Yeah, I know, everyone is disappointed, including me. But sometimes life gets in the way of what we desire to accomplish.) January 8, the Sunday following Epiphany, we will celebrate the External Solemnity of Epiphany. That day, instead of the normal Sunday Mass, we will celebrate the Mass of January 6, which the 1962 liturgical books allow for several big feasts during the year, including parish feast days. We will have our annual luncheon following the 10:30 Mass for those who reserved tickets in advance. For those who forgot or who waited beyond the last moment to see if anything better showed up on their social calendar, I am sorry to say that, since caterers need a headcount to prepare the right amount of food (and to charge us properly for their services), we cannot accommodate those without tickets.
But wait, there’s more! At 6:30 pm on January 5, the evening before Epiphany, there is a special blessing of Epiphany Holy Water! This special blessing includes a schola solemnly chanting multiple psalms, canticles, and hymns along with the priest chanting (recto tono—a very simplified single note chant) the St. Michael exorcism prayer, all of the prayers of exorcism of salt and water, the prayers blessing the salt and water, the prayers combining the exorcised and blessed salt and water, the Te Deum and thanksgiving to God for what He has done for us in giving such a great sacramental to be used throughout the year. This particular blessed water is, according to exorcists, the most powerful of all the blessed water. Every year the crowds coming for the ceremony and to receive some of the water have been increasing. We started out blessing several cases of water, then moved up to more than a dozen cases of water, then last year, when even that wasn’t enough, we brought in a 125-gallon container to bless. But the 125 gallons proved to be too little, too. Here is what will be done this year. You may bring in as much salt as you wish to have blessed and I will bless it and you can take it home with you. If you bring in water containers of 5 gallons or more, bring them in filled with water and open at the top (so that I can add the exorcised and blessed salt to them) and set them in front of the altar rail and they will be exorcised and blessed. If you have smaller containers, bring them in empty and you can fill them from the larger containers once the blessings are completed. We will have two 125-gallon containers from which to fill your gallon and half-gallon jugs, and two smaller containers (about 15 gallons) from which to fill your small—normal sized!—holy water bottles. Let me be clear that on that evening, I will only be blessing salt and water. Please don’t bring other items to be blessed at that time. Last year these beautiful chanted prayers took about an hour to complete and the filling of the water bottles took another hour or so. The chanted prayers will still take about the same amount of time but the water bottle filling may go quicker with the additional huge container. This year we may even have extra water left over for those who cannot make it to the evening blessing but can come on Epiphany day itself. Don’t forget to bring your container!
For those of you who plan ahead a few weeks, February 2 brings us the blessing of candles on Candlemas Day. The candle blessing and daytime candle procession will take place at 8:00 am outside in front of the rectory (weather permitting), and Mass will begin after we process to the church. You must come early to bring your candles to this spot! If you come late, your candles will not be blessed. February 3 brings us the Feast of St. Blaise, at whose Masses we bless throats as well as give a special blessing to still more candles (probably for the benefit of those who showed up late the day before!) plus bread, wine, water, and fruit for the relief of throat ailments.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Merry Christmas!
Some who are reading this may be in church for the first time in quite a while. Welcome home! Just like when children leave the home they grew up in and then come back for a visit, you might have noticed some changes. You might have even been wondering if you mistakenly entered into a non-Catholic church when you heard a “foreign” language spoken by the priest, and the altar boys giving responses also in the “foreign” language. Of course, Latin is not supposed to be a foreign language to those who belong to the Latin Rite of the Church, as most Catholics do. It is the official liturgical language of the huge majority of Catholics throughout the world. Yet it is used so little nowadays that nobody seems to understand how important it is to have an official “Church” language, a sacred language for conversing with God. Well, here we use it all the time! Let me assure you, this is indeed a Catholic parish. Since August of 2015 we have been dedicated, at the command of the bishop, to bringing the sacraments to the people according to the 1962 Missal and other liturgical books in use at that time. This is the Mass some of you older folks might still remember from your youth but the majority of parishioners here today have zero memories of it. They recognized, though, the holiness and reverence of the old Mass and were drawn to it. The prayers are precise and bold. The scriptural quotations are numerous and give a logical coherence to the “theme” of the Mass. It is different—perhaps even jarringly so when you experience it for the first time—but as it becomes more familiar it will lead you to a deeper spiritual understanding and experience of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
If you are a visitor from the local area, I hope you don’t just drop by occasionally but rather that you stay and make this parish your spiritual home. If you are from out of town and only come through once or twice a year, I am glad you found us, either by accident or by purposefully searching for us. Feel free to join us next time you are in town. And for those of you who may be here as “Christmas and Easter” Catholics, who remain adamantly Catholic but only occasionally attend Mass, I hope you find in this parish the reason for returning full time to the practice of the Faith. Stopping by for a visit on Christmas and Easter is a start of a relationship or is perhaps the beginning of mending a broken one but it is not enough to make the relationship a strong, vibrant one. Men and God need more time together. A weekly visit is the bare minimum God has told us that we need. Worshiping and adoring Him while entering into His Holy Sacrifice (in other words, fully, consciously, actively participating in the Mass) at least every Sunday and the few Holy Days of Obligation still on the calendar is what has been revealed to us as an absolute necessity for spiritual health. You may have wandered away from church because you were bored, because you didn’t “get anything out of it,” or because of some serious sins (your own or those of others) that made you question or even lose Faith. That was then, this is now. Now is the time to come home. This parish is not going to attempt to entertain you so don’t look for a “feel good” Mass or homily. This parish is going to change you into a Saint through serious prayer, through encouragement from others struggling for sanctity in a world of filth, through true Catholic teaching, and, most especially, through the form of Mass that converted the world. This is not just a gimmick to get seats filled or to get a heftier collection. We truly do want all the Catholic Faithful to return to the fullness of God’s grace by availing themselves of His sacraments and entering deeply into Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart, the fount of love and mercy. Only after all of us Catholics are fully loving and living our Faith can we expect the rest of the world’s people to finally see and accept the great love of the one, true God which has been revealed in and through His Son.
I don’t need to ask why you left in the first place. It doesn’t matter. Come back home. You are always welcome. The Catholic Church is the sure vessel that will lead men through the treacherous waters of this life to the eternally safe harbor of Heaven. All of the supernatural graces and love of God that are necessary for salvation are to be found in Her. To those who don’t know Her teachings, who question Her teachings, who struggle to live Her teachings, I will gladly tutor, answer, strengthen and even absolve--whatever it takes to help you get on and stay on the path to Sainthood.
Come and really discover the Faith for the first time; or re-discover it; or explore it more in depth than you ever thought necessary or helpful. Christmas is the season that we celebrate our Savior’s coming into the world. It is in the Catholic Church that you get to meet Him on a personal basis, in a sacramental way, in a loving union of God and man. Let this Christmas be the one that changes your life here upon Earth and prepares you for eternal life in Heaven. Live your Catholic Faith to the fullest. Love your Catholic Faith intimately. The true meaning of Christmas is found, lived and loved in the Catholic Church and, if I may be so bold as to write this, especially in Epiphany of Our Lord parish.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Traditional Oplatki
Here at Epiphany we strive to keep Catholic traditions, as well as Tradition, alive. Such things as Eucharistic and candlelight processions, Benediction of the Blessed Sacrament, and the blessing of various foods, plants, and objects on certain feast days throughout the year come immediately to mind as examples. One tradition which comes from my Polish heritage and which gathers an ever larger and more joyful crowd every year is the Blessing of Easter Baskets on Holy Saturday morning. This year I want to introduce you (or remind you, if you are of Polish, Lithuanian or Slovak heritage yourself) to another great Polish tradition, this one for Christmas. It is the tradition of the Oplatki (singular: Oplatek). An oplatek is an unleavened and very thin rectangular bread, usually embossed with some sort of Nativity-related scene. It is made the same way that traditional Mass hosts are, using only wheat flour and water (although some may contain a small amount of food dye to color them). They are never consecrated, although they may be blessed by the priest, as ours will be. These are meant to be taken home for the Wigilia, or Christmas Eve gathering of the family.
Although details of this custom do vary, the basic format remains constant. On Christmas Eve the entire family gathers for a full day of celebrating the end of the penitential season of Advent and the coming of the Christ Child in just a few more hours. The house must be cleaned, for a dirty house on Christmas foretold a dirty house for the rest of the year, or so many a mother convinced her children. The fresh Christmas tree was cut and decorated with apples, oranges. candies, chocolates, tinsel (angel’s hair!), glass ornaments, lights, and homemade paper chains. This was a day of abstinence, so the great evening feast, which consisted of many courses (7, 9, and 13 are listed in various sources), was completely meatless. Appetizers, soups, fish dishes, and desserts were prepared. The table was strewn with a light layer of straw (reminiscent of the straw lining the baby Jesus’ manger) and covered with a white tablecloth (swaddling clothes). There were place settings for everyone plus one extra in case a beggar or unexpected guest came by. But before anyone dared to touch the food, the father of the family would take an oplatek, break it and share a piece of it with his wife. As he gave it to her he would ask her forgiveness for any harms he had done to her during the past year and ask special blessings for her in the upcoming one. She would then break off another piece from her piece of the oplatek and share it with the child next to her, and do the same. From one to another, each would follow suit. Then all would share a piece of their piece of the oplatek with everyone in the family, not just the one next to them. Only after the oplatki were all distributed and consumed was the main meal eaten. No hard liquor was served but beer and wine may have flowed in generous amounts, as celebrating Christ’s love being spread among family and friends in such a special way was certainly worth a toast or three.
When the meal was completed, it was time to sing Christmas carols. The children had already received their gifts on December 6, when St. Nicholas made his visit, but adults may have exchanged simple gifts among themselves on Christmas eve. Finally, it was time to walk to church, hopefully, through freshly fallen snow. Midnight Mass brought to completion all that was symbolically done in the home earlier that day. Christ was born. Our Savior had arrived. The Gospel message was now to be seen, heard, and wonderfully lived out.
This year I have some oplatki available in the social hall. I was only able to get a limited number this year, so please do not take them if you won’t use them, and please don’t take extras to send to family and friends unless there are some left over after Christmas. Oh, and don’t forget your barnyard animals! The pink oplatek is for them. Of course, you will have to do the breaking, sharing, and praying on their behalf, but an ancient tradition holds that at midnight, when Jesus is born and the angels are singing, the animals, who, aside from Mary and Joseph, were the only ones present for the Holy Child’s birth, are able to speak. Only the pure of heart are able to hear and understand them, so be ready!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: What’s New This Week?
Last week we bid a fond farewell to Mark Rosendale, commonly referred to as “the man who can do everything.” Many of you know him as the man who has been answering the phones at the church office for the past few years. Others know him as the man who makes things—anything, actually—out of wood whenever we need it. Still others know him as the man who gets the football off the roof, or the man who sets Father’s appointments, or the man who puts announcements in the bulletin, or the man who fixes the plumbing, or the man who sets the Mass intentions, or the man who... yes, the list could go on and on. Unfortunately for us, a while ago he moved to the middle of nowhere beyond Brooksville, where he now farms a small plot of land. He has a large garden and raises chickens, goats, cows, pigs, elephants, and dodo birds. Or at least some of that. Plus, he still teaches woodworking to a group of young men. But the drive to work was getting tiresome and expensive. He started working fewer days, hoping that being able to sleep in past 4:00 am on at least a few mornings would make the remaining commutes tolerable. But it didn’t work. About the same time, Fr. Pecchie was looking for someone to come and help at St. Anthony the Abbot parish in Brooksville, a full hour’s drive closer to Mark’s house, and he finally made the difficult and sad decision to cut even his last couple of days here.
If you have his email (Mark@EpiphanyTampa.com) in your list of contacts, it is time to change it if you wish to get through to the office. We were fortunate that Jennifer Whiskeyman (Jennifer@EpiphanyTampa.com) was willing to take his place. So say “hello” to Jennifer the next time you drop by the parish during the day. So far, I haven’t seen her climb onto the roof or install a water fountain, but she is taking charge of publishing the bulletin and (a big thing right now) scheduling Mass intentions for the new year. If you are trying to get an appointment with me or trying to schedule the use of a classroom for a group meeting or activity, give her a call (813-234-8693) or send her an email.
Also new to the staff are Liesa Gonzalez and Josefina Rodriguez, who are helping to keep everything clean and neat, and in proper order. The more respect you show toward God and your fellow parishioners by doing such simple tasks as throwing your garbage in the trash can or dumpster, making sure your children clean up after themselves, not littering the grounds or restrooms, etc., the more these ladies are able to focus on doing the routine cleaning that just cannot be done by every individual, such as mopping the floors. Please treat them well and remember, when they are at Mass, they are parishioners, not employees, so don’t interrupt either of them in the middle of their prayer (or other parish activities) and expect them to go clean up a mess somewhere. If fact, now that I am mentioning it, please keep that in mind with all of the parish staff. After all, something like, “Hi, Kim! Nice Epiphany celebration, isn’t it? Here’s the paperwork I was supposed to give you last week at the office but forgot to drop off. Oh, you have a plate of food in front of you, don’t worry, I’ll just set it under your plate” doesn’t exactly make for good relations!
Now for something a bit more trivial. Last week my glasses broke. The left nosepiece snapped off when I was cleaning them. A year earlier the same thing happened to the right nosepiece but I was able to get in to see the optometrist a few days later and he simply, under warranty, put my lenses into a new set of frames. It was the new frames that broke this time. These were not cheap frames as far as cost goes, but they were certainly cheap in quality. This time, though, I couldn’t go back to the optometrist since he retired and closed up shop two months ago. I wore the broken glasses for one day, having to hold up the frames when reading (such as at Mass!), and then dug out my older glasses from years gone by. These glasses are not only an old prescription but are also barely holding together, as the arms had bent at ninety-degree angles as I sat on them one day long ago and, while mostly straight now, are not exactly able to stay in place without a lot of constant adjusting. On Tuesday I was finally able to get in to get another eye exam and order new glasses, which should be ready in a week to ten days. In the meantime, I got a pair of contact lenses to try out and to tide me over until the new specs arrive. Of course, I had to also get a set of reading glasses, since I cannot read a thing, neither the breviary nor the missal, with my vision corrected only for distance. Having to put on and take off readers while celebrating Mass wasn’t so bad, but later that day I couldn’t read the computer monitor because it was too far away for the reading glasses to work and too close for the contacts to focus upon. So if you see me squinting or adjusting my glasses or using reading glasses for the next week, now you know why. And to think that I once thought it was pretty funny watching the “old people” trying to read at arm's length!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: 2 Big Masses This Week!
This is the beginning of the second week of Advent and a quick look at the calendar shows two very “big” Masses which you should put on your calendar. The first is the biggest of the big Masses. This Thursday is a Holy Day of Obligation: The Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. To help you fulfill your obligation we will have our regularly scheduled morning Masses at 6:30 and 8:00 plus an additional evening Mass at 7:00 pm. Just as a “heads up” for anyone new to Catholicism, the Immaculate Conception is not Jesus’ Conception! This feast comes just a few weeks before Jesus is born and oftentimes new Catholics think that it is strange that we would celebrate His Conception right before we celebrate His Birth. But that particular feast is named the Annunciation of the Blessed Virgin Mary—which really confuses the newbies since it names Mary and not Jesus! But a few seconds of thought put into it and it all makes sense as on that day the Archangel Gabriel told Mary that she was to conceive the Savior, she said “Fiat” and, Lo and Behold, Jesus was Conceived in her Immaculate womb. Our Lord’s Conception was celebrated nine months (not just a few weeks) before His Birth, so we already celebrated it on the 25th of March. At this week’s feast, we celebrate the conception of Mary, who was given the singular grace to be preserved from even Original Sin from the moment of her conception, hence, the Immaculate Conception. Her birth is celebrated nine months after the Immaculate Conception, so we will get to it on September 8.
The second big Mass, while not of obligation, is a very beautiful Mass that, similar to the Immaculate Conception, honors the Blessed Virgin Mary. On Saturday we will celebrate the Rorate Caeli Mass at 6:30 am. [Note that there will not be an 8:00 am Mass that morning!] Except for those who are new to the parish or to the Traditional Latin Mass, by now I think that everyone knows that the Rorate Mass is a Votive Mass of Our Lady in Advent. It can be celebrated on any Saturday during this short season so if there are multiple churches near each other that will be celebrating this Mass, you may be able to hop from one to the other each week and pray it multiple times! Such is the case for those who were at the Rorate Mass at Jesuit High School on Saturday, December 3, and now will be at ours this week. So, as we heard from St. Paul just last week, “now is the hour for us to rise from sleep”! For some of you living far away, you will have to rise very early, but “now our salvation is nearer than when we believed” and the early start to the day will be worth it! All of the altar boys, schola members, and sacristans will have to get there even earlier than you and they are the ones begging for this Mass every year! So set your alarm right away so you don’t forget. It is worth getting up early on the one day a week which you might normally get to sleep in a little!
The Advent Rorate Masses are celebrated in darkness, with only candlelight to illuminate the church. As the Mass continues, the daylight grows stronger, as if the signified Light of the World, Jesus Christ, is finally dawning upon us. The Savior is bud forth in the East (or Orient, which, as an aside, is why the term ad orientem—to the east—is used when the priest faces at least liturgical east like the congregation, all looking expectantly to the Orient for the return of Our Lord in His Majestic Glory), the land is blessed, and the Christians (Catholics are the true Christians) are set free from the dark captivity of sin. He came to save us from our sins; to bring light to those in darkness. He came through—and is magnified by—the Blessed Virgin Mary, without whom we would find no Savior, and merit no salvation. Rorate Caeli (or Coeli) desuper et nubes pluant justum, aperiatur terra, et germinet Salvatorem (Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain the just: let the earth be opened and bud forth a Savior) are the opening words of the Introit of the Mass. They are taken from Isaias 45:8 and have, quite naturally, been seen as a prophecy about Our Lord’s birth.
One last thing about the Rorate Caeli Mass that I wish to point out to you is the Postcommunion prayer. Maybe you have prayed this, perhaps even three times a day, and never knew where it came from. Pour forth, we beseech Thee, O Lord, Thy grace into our hearts: that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ Thy Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by His Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of His Resurrection. Through the same Christ, our Lord. Yes, this is the final prayer of the Angelus, traditionally prayed at 6:00 am, 12:00 noon, and again at 6:00 pm. The church bells would ring out at those three times and, in a Catholic town, at least, everyone would stop and bow their heads and pray the Angelus. Not having grown up in a small Catholic town, I never experienced that myself, but in old stories it seems that everyone would stop, pray, and even genuflect in public as the church bells pealed. It was a “Catholic thing” that even the non-Catholics showed reverence to. Now, even the priests don’t know it. Sigh.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: My Family Thanksgiving
Holiday traditions seem to be the most cherished of all family traditions. Although traditional activities and expectations are attached to each holiday, even those vary just enough from year to year to make the days both comfortable in the “normal” routine and open to new and exciting variations. This year I will share with you another peek into my family’s Thanksgiving traditions as they played out on paper if not in reality. Remember, as always, this week’s bulletin had to be printed before the office staff took off for their Thanksgiving break.
This year the entire family was going to gather for Thanksgiving Day and it was going to be absolutely normal. All of the ginned-up hysteria about coldvid19 had long since passed. Nobody was going to be wearing Halloween masks, nobody was going to keep 6 feet between family members, friends, or pets, and nobody was going to sit at home in fear of social contact. Or, at least that’s what I keep hearing “getting back to normal” means. But when no one in my family is actually normal to begin with, normal can actually be anything but normal! Once again my little sister hosted the Big Dinner at her house. Brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, nephews and nieces, grandparents, and cousins were all jam-packed into the house and spilled out into the backyard. We all sat or stood (depending on age) around yakking and bringing others up to speed on what was new in life as we had a few drinks and ate about a dozen pounds of appetizers each. Aunt Irma was there, of course, but she kept darting in and out, constantly going to the guest house out back. She wouldn’t say what she was doing out there and, because she is always a little “off” we were all speculating wildly. Some thought she was taking quick naps. Others joked that she was inhaling something from her new local “cash-only pharmacy.” But some of the children, who are much more inquisitive than us lazy adults, actually went over to find out and came back with the happy announcement that she was busy cooking yet one more Thanksgiving turkey! I said, “one more” because there were already a few amazing turkeys being prepared by my brother-in-law. He had one for the oven, one spatchcocked for the grill. and another for the deep fryer. Those, along with about 7 huge side dishes, fresh rolls, 6 pies, and a couple of gallons of ice cream, were probably enough to make each of us burst our bellies in a round of gluttonous feasting, but that wasn’t enough for our great Aunt. If you remember, she has had a couple of years of not being quite “with it” at Thanksgiving and she figured that the best way to “prove” herself competent once again was to cook as well as she used to when she was in charge of such festivities.
Now, I want to explain to you that I am not making fun of my elders when I tell tall tales such as what I am about to spin. After all, we all love Aunt Irma, and all of her eccentricities come as part of that lovable package that makes her who she is. And I certainly do not mean to belittle her cooking skills, for I am always ready to go through the trouble of eating anything that anyone has gone through the trouble of cooking, whether it tastes as if it came from a professional chef or from a drive-through window. But some stories just beg to be shared...
Aunt Irma was finally ready to announce that she needed a few strong boys to carry her turkey to the table. This was it. It was just about time to eat. The prayers were said and the food was set out. Aunt Irma explained that she had, during her coldvid derangement years, spent hours, days, weeks, and months listening to cooking shows so that she could pull out all the stops with the turkey she was having the boys bring over. (She had her TV set adjusted so that she only heard the audio because she was afraid of catching the ‘vid from the people on TV if she could see them. But some things really need to be seen to be understood, as you will soon learn.) Aunt Irma proudly announced that she had cooked the turkey via the Sous Vide method, in which food is immersed in a water bath and kept at a constant—the perfect—temperature so that it can never deviate from that perfect temperature. It cannot overcook, for the temperature never rises above whatever you set it for. It will never be undercooked, as long as you keep it immersed for a set minimum amount of time. It will, you are always assured by sous vide aficionados, be “just right.” Unfortunately, Aunt Irma was never able to see on her dark TV screen how the turkey is supposed to be sealed in a plastic bag before being immersed in the water. What the boys were carrying in was a huge pot filled with water with a turkey plopped directly into it, with the whole thing sealed in a plastic trash bag! Of course, nobody said anything but words of praise and thanks for the work she put into it.
But, since sous vide is supposed to be a very “hands-off” method of cooking, why did she keep running back and forth between houses? Because she knew that the turkey skin would not be crisp and brown unless she used a blow torch on it. She tried several times, each time getting a more powerful torch and using a larger flame, and let’s just say that the guest house will be unavailable for a few months...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Weeks Gone By and The Week Ahead
This past week we were blessed (and I do not use that term lightly here) by Fr. Shannon Collins, MSJB as he preached our first Parish Mission since the dark covid years were inflicted upon us. The subject, The Most Precious Blood of Jesus, was presented in a profoundly spiritual and intellectual manner. His catechism classes after the morning 8:00 Masses were also amazing, as he enlightened those who were able to attend by delving into current Faith issues in an understandable way with a mixture of seriousness and good humor. As a preparation for the partially penitential season of Advent, this was perfect. Thank you Father!
Of course, the Parish Mission came right on the heels of Cardinal Burke’s visit and Pontifical Solemn High Mass. This week a few bloggers and Catholic commentators mentioned his visit to Epiphany. Adrian Alvarado from the site OnePeterFive, who was in attendance that day, wrote a very nice article about his experience of the Mass and the parishioners while he was here. Several others picked up his story and passed it on or commented on it on their sites. There was one site, Abyussus Abyssum / Deep Calls to Deep, which re-posted that article with the wonderful headline in all caps and bold: IF ONLY THIS COULD BE REPLICATED IN EVERY PARISH IN EVERY DIOCESE IN THE WORLD. I couldn’t agree more! They included a photo of Cardinal Burke at the time of Consecration lifting up the Sacred Host as the surrounding ministers and entire congregation knelt in prayer and Adoration. A recently retired priest-blogger, Fr. Allan J. McDonald of the Savannah diocese, on his Southern Orders blog passed on the photo with an all caps (but unbolded) headline: EVEN A BARN OF A CHURCH BUILDING HAS AN ELEGANCE WITH THE TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC ALTAR SET-UP AND AN AD ORIENTEM MASS WITH SOME PIZAZZ. Setting aside that he doesn’t know the difference between a barn and a school gymnasium/cafeteria (which was the original intent of this building—the “real” church never got built, as happened so often in this diocese, with the “temporary” church becoming the permanent church), I love the way he put it! The Cardinal’s TLM being described as having “pizazz” certainly is quite a bit different than the image I would have in my head if someone described a NOM as having “pizazz,” for in the latter I would conjure up images of a would-be jazz pianist tinkling the keys of an electric keyboard, a soloist leading the “audience” in clapping to the beat as she belted out a peppy bilingual (English/Spanish) song, and Father dancing a conga line with 20 extraordinary ministerettes of Holy Communion after they all recited the “words of Institution” together. (Sorry for putting that image into your brain. I just took a break to go rinse my mouth out, for I threw up a little as I was writing that description!) There are probably other places where the story was published and if you know of any that are especially noteworthy, feel free to pass them on.
And now, on to the week ahead. I am sure that you are all aware of the big holiday coming up this week. Our parish office will be closed from noon on Wednesday until Monday morning. After all, the staff must prepare for and then recover from the Solemn Religious Ceremonial Day of Black Friday. In all seriousness, though, thousands of people will line up in front of their favorite shop hours or even a day ahead of this Biggest Sales Day of the year and have made a quasi-religious ritual out of doing so. I have no doubt, not even a teeny-tiny one, that each person camping out for said “event” would bitterly complain if their (probably former) priest or minister ever dared to keep them at Mass or Service for more than an hour. Those who complain that a 10:30 Mass is “too early” and that they simply can’t give up their sleep for Our Lord will have no problem staying awake all night in sub-zero or rainy weather for the chance of getting $5 off of a $20 item. “I’m bored!” they would whine at church, while they never get bored doing absolutely nothing while camping out in front of WallyMart. “I got nothing out of it” they would kvetch after church, without realizing that they literally got nothing out of buying items for a lesser discount than they spent on gas. “He’s always talking about money” they would lyingly grouse, after having spent weeks scouring the sales brochures online and in print for their Black Friday religious ceremony, all with the plan to wastefully spend a fortune on things they don’t need and may not even want. Oh, yes, the Church of the Half-Price Television is leading them to their god and they will sacrifice anything to participate in its worldly promises. Yet they will turn their back on the one True God and his Other-worldly promise of Salvation.
I write this to remind you that there are things in this life that matter eternally and those that seem to matter but only temporally. Spend Thanksgiving Day giving prayerful thanks to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Everything worthwhile that you have and that you are comes from Him. If Cardinal Burke’s Mass and Fr. Collins’ Mission did what they were attempting to do, Black Friday will pale (as in the pale horse of the Apocalypse, ridden by Death) in comparison to even the secular holiday of Thanksgiving. Don’t get caught up in the frenzy, for “where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.”
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: What a Weekend!
Who would have ever thought that Epiphany parish would host a Cardinal for a Pontifical Mass? Who would have ever thought that the Cardinal would stay for a few hours afterwards to greet the people? Who? Not me, that’s for sure! While there may be some relatively small number of people who see Cardinals on a regular basis, for instance, if they happen to live in close proximity to one, most people, I would guess, will never meet one in person. After all, if my count is correct there are only seven (arch)dioceses in the US headed up by a Cardinal. Chicago (Cupich), Galveston-Houston (Di Nardo), New York (Dolan), Washington, DC (Gregory), San Diego (McElroy), Boston (O’Malley), and Newark (Tobin). There are also a couple of retired US Cardinals and those who, like Cardinal Burke, hold jobs other than running an (arch)diocese. The Catholics in those big cities headed by a Cardinal may occasionally get a glimpse of their Cardinal but I would guess that even in those cities only a few ever really see him face to face, or lips to ring! I am going to go out on a limb here and guess further than none of the other Cardinals celebrate the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass in the Vernable Old Rite, so even those Catholics who may attend a Mass with any of the other Cardinals would not get to experience what we just did. The new Rite just doesn’t seem to want to make a “big thing” out of a priest being a Bishop or Cardinal, so most of the ceremonial aspects of the Pontifical Mass were never made a part of the new Ordinary Form of the Mass. Remember that this sprang out of the 1960’s mentality of “authority bad, tradition bad, sameness (in the name of individualism!) good.”
After seeing the difference between the two rituals, though, with a period of many decades separating them for the most part, it is easy enough to see why the “simplification” (or “dumbing down”) of the Pontifical Mass took place: for ease and speed. I have mentioned before that until I started celebrating the TLM I never knew that there were specific prayers for the priest to say as he washed his hands and then put on the vestmentsfor Mass. A washing unto purity? A helmet of salvation to overcome the devil? A cleansed heart? A girdle of purity? All of those vesting prayers as well as the rest were just dropped. Not so in the TLM, except when the church is built with the sacristy in the social hall and people interrupt the prayers because “the priest isn’t doing anything right now, anyway.” But I digress. Before we made the procession into the church, the Cardinal prayed his vesting prayers (and he wears more vestments than ordinary priests do), not as he grabbed his stuff out of a drawer, but rather as the servers ceremoniously brought the vestments to him with bows, genuflections, and a great sense of reverence for His Eminence, and then his deacons assisted in vesting him. This ceremony took practice. It took space. It took attention to details. Getting rid of such “nonsense” as we have done in the new Rite certainly speeds things up and makes it easier to be an altar boy or assisting cleric. But the old ceremony gave more than it took. It gave each of us a sense that we really were in the presence of a Prince of the Church, not simply “You can call me Ray, or you can call me Jay, but you doesn’t hasta call me Cardinal” Burke. It must also be a reminder to him that his vocational calling is, indeed, special. He is not simply an ordinary Bishop or priest, let alone an ordinary man. People today, especially clergy and those who work in chanceries, may grimace at such a statement but it is nonetheless true. It is the college of Cardinals that elects a Pope when needed. That alone is a huge responsibility, as they each must do due diligence in “checking out” the other Cardinals’ spiritual and “practical” qualifications. They must also remember that they, too, might be chosen to be the successor to Peter, so they must always remain faithful to God, which includes being both faithful in prayer and faithful in defending Tradition. They are to be strict imitators of Christ, and lead by serving as He did, by giving all they are for the Glory of God. The vesting ceremony in itself brings that out quite clearly.
And then there were the ceremonial parts of the Mass, mostly dropped in the new Rite, that, again, took a lot of practice, space (we even had to enlarge our sanctuary!), and attention. Although many of the signs and symbols used in the Mass, as well as the reasons why some things were done might not be clear to the average person without explanation, what would be obvious to all is that this Mass was special, dare I say, more important, than even the most elaborate Mass they have ever seen their parish priest celebrate, and that the celebrant of the Mass must be someone very, very special. Nobody would walk away from a Pontifical Mass yawning and saying, “I’m never coming back here again. I didn’t get a thing out of it.” This is the type of Mass which brings sinners to repentance, which brings grown men to tears, which reinforces the faith of the pious and instills the seeds of faith in the degenerate. Yes, it was a lot of work. It took a lot of preparation. But it was worth it. God bless Raymond Cardinal Burke for all he did for Epiphany of Our Lord Parish!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
Welcome, Raymond Cardinal Burke!
From the personal website of Raymond Cardinal Burke, https://www.cardinalburke.com/
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke is an American Cardinal Prelate of the Roman Catholic Church.
Born in 1948 in Richland Center, Wisconsin, Raymond Leo Burke attended seminary in La Crosse, Wisconsin, Washington, D.C., and Rome, where he was ordained a priest by Pope Saint Paul VI in 1975. Ordained a bishop in 1995 by Pope Saint John Paul II, he served for almost nine years as Bishop of La Crosse, where he founded the Shrine of Our Lady of Guadalupe, and over four years as Archbishop of St. Louis.
He was named a cardinal in 2010 by Pope Benedict XVI. Cardinal Burke has written and spoken widely on Roman Catholic canon law, the Holy Eucharist, devotion to the Sacred Heart of Jesus, devotion to Our Lady of Guadalupe, and the sanctity of human life. He is a member of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura.
"Welcome to my personal website. I am pleased to communicate with you. It is my hope that your visit will be a source of encouragement to you. For my part, the website is a means of carrying out more fully my mission as a Bishop and Cardinal in the Roman Catholic Church, especially the teaching of the Church’s doctrine and discipline. In a particular way, I hope that your visit will inspire you to pray for me. Please let me know of special intentions which you wish me to remember in prayer. May God bless you and your home."
Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke
From the Pastor: We Are Blessed!
What an honor to have Cardinal Burke celebrating the Mass for us on the Feast of Christ the King! How is it that this distinguished Prince of the Church should grace us with such a gift? His Emminence accepted an invitation to speak at a meeting of our local Legatus group. (Legatus is an organization whose members are Catholic business leaders.) One of the members told me that His Emminence stated that while he was here he would like to celebrate a Pontifical Solemn High Mass at Epiphany—if the pastor was agreeable to it! Are you kidding? Who would say “no” to such an offer from such a holy man? Not me!
The members of Epiphany have worked long and hard hours to make everything run so well that all who are in attendance think we do things like this all of the time. Sacristans, altar boys and their trainers, musicians, office staff, grounds crew, Knight of Columbus, Epiphany Council of Catholic Women, Prugatorial Society, and seemingly just about everyone else volunteered to do some thing (or many things) to bring this to fruition. Many, many of them even sacrificed attending the Pontifical Mass just so that others could be there. They are working while we are at Mass. Thank you, Cardinal Burke! Thank you, Legatus! Thank you, Epiphany members! Welcome, all who have never been here before!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: One Week Left To Prepare
There is only one week left to prepare for what may be the first Pontifical Solemn High Mass at a parish in this diocese in the past 50 years or so. I don’t know if, even when the TLM was not the “extraordinary” but rather the “only” Mass, it would have been too common for a Cardinal, a Prince of the Church, to visit and celebrate such a Mass. Because St. Petersburg never had its own Cardinal, it would have had to be a visitor coming in for such a Mass to occur. If we have any Church history buffs out there, I would love to know when the last one was!
Because we (clergy and altar boys) need the extra time to prepare and practice for the big Mass, we will have to cancel several regularly scheduled events to make time for the practices. So men, sorry to say it, but the Holy League will be canceled this coming Thursday. Practice will begin at 6:00 pm, and it will be pretty difficult to have both a Holy Hour and Mass practice in the same sanctuary at the same time. And for those of you who normally come to the Saturday morning Adult Catechism Class, it, too, will be canceled. The Saturday morning practice is scheduled to begin at 10:00 am, which means that Adoration and Confessions must be completed by then. So don’t dilly dally in getting to the church that morning if you want to pray in front of the exposed Blessed Sacrament and/or go to confession. I usually allow confessions to go until the last person is finished but this time, even if there are hundreds of people in line, it will end by 9:45 at the very latest. [Note: “...end by 9:45 at the very latest” does not mean “get in line at 9:44:57” or even “enter the confessional at 9:40 and expect to stay there for a 10-minute confession.”] There are probably more things that are or will be canceled but I cannot think of any of them at this time. No Masses will be canceled, so don’t worry about that. Thank you for understanding and being willing to postpone your burning desire to be at these parish functions so that we can prepare for a truly extraordinary parish function.
But enough about that. We have to now start preparing for everything that is coming up next! Remember that the Tuesday following the Pontifical Mass, November 1, is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. We will have our normal morning Masses at 6:30 and 8:00, plus an extra Mass at 7:00 pm. The following day, Wednesday, November 2, is All Souls Day. Once again, our morning Masses will be at the normal times and, even though it is not a Holy Day of Obligation, we will have another extra Mass at 7:00 pm due to great public demand. [I will write more about All Souls at the end of this article.] Two days later is First Friday, and, because I doubt that my mother will be able to get too many sign-ups during the Cardinal’s big day, we will need you all to really step up to the plate and let her know that you will cover your prayer hours. With this schedule, you will be spending almost as much time at church that week as I do!
Daylight Savings Time ends the following weekend, Election Day follows on Tuesday, and Veterans Day finishes the “work week” on Friday. Those are not Church celebrations of any sort but they each need to be noted and entered into one’s schedule of life events. But then the very next weekend (November 12-13) all of the secular things can be set aside once again because that begins our first Parish Mission since the Covid meltdown. More information on the schedule for Fr. Shannon Collins’ talks on The Most Precious Blood of Jesus will be coming out soon enough but for now, just be sure to mark your calendar so that you don’t miss out! The next week brings us the big feast of Thanksgiving and then the following week begins Advent. You all know what Advent is preparing us for, so this is where I will end this “looking ahead” part.
But I promised above that I would write some more about All Souls Day. If you wish to have me and the other priests pray for your departed loved ones, be sure to write their names down (legibly, of course) and turn in those lists to the office, or leave them at the sacristy, or put them in the collection basket. There does not need to be a donation attached to the list but if you wish to leave a donation it will be divided among all of the priests who celebrate Mass here during the month of November, as all of us will be praying for all of those for whom you requested prayers all month long, not just on November 2. We keep the list on the altar to remind us to pray for them and I hope it reminds you to pray for them as well.
More and more Catholics are dying now without their children even having a Requiem Mass said for them and I doubt that those children remember to pray for them even on All Souls Day. The protestants and non-Christians never give a second thought (at least, not in a good way) to Purgatory, and now Catholics are following suit, so who will pray for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed? Only the truly faithful Catholics. You. Make long lists!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Cardinal’s Visit Approacheth!
His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, will celebrate a Pontifical Solemn High Mass on Sunday, October 30, at 10:30 am. None of that should be new news to anyone. But as the day approaches, more and more people are asking questions, most of which I cannot answer! How many people are we expecting? I have no idea. We are getting a little less than 800 people for Masses on a typical weekend right now. Will they all show up at this one Mass? Perhaps. If so, we will fill the church and the social hall and still have people outside. Will many decide to go to the 7:30 Mass instead of fighting the crowds at 10:30? Perhaps. If so, depending on how many do this, we may all fit in the church. Heck, we may even have empty pews in the church if enough people do this! Will people from outside of the parish come to Mass? Perhaps. But even guessing how many is fraught with unknown factors. Will everyone who attends Traditional Latin Mass at St. Justin Martyr in Largo, St. Anthony the Abbot in Brooksville, Christ the King in Sarasota, the SSPX, or the Old Roman Catholic Church come here? It is highly unlikely, although they are the ones most likely to have heard that the Cardinal is coming here. Will even a small group come from each of those places? Perhaps. But none of them are too close, so perhaps not. Will people who don’t usually attend Traditional Latin Mass come? Perhaps, for his Eminence is well thought of by many people outside of TLMs, too. But, then again, how would they have heard of his plans? I haven’t seen any news about this Mass or the rest of what the Cardinal is doing while he is in town even in our diocesan news outlets. Traditional Catholic media, secular media, and mainstream Catholic media have all been silent as well, as far as I know. [Note: that is just an observation, not a complaint!] So, how many people are we expecting? A rough guess puts it between 53 and 1428 people, give or take a few.
Fortunately, some of the questions are easier to answer. Will there be coffee and donuts after Mass? This burning question gets asked more than any other. The answer is, yes, we will have coffee and donuts. But, because the social hall will be set up for maximum seating, there will be no tables inside. Trying to set up the coffee and donuts in there only after the Mass is done would be, due to the crowds and chairs already in place, impossible. So the ECCW is setting up outside, between the church and school. Another question deals with “real” food, as if donuts are not really food! At one time we looked into getting a few food trucks to come but there are logistical problems with that if we get a large crowd. Where to park the trucks, for instance, if the crowd is large, where they won’t take up valuable parking spots and yet still have enough room around them to handle the lines of people waiting for food. But, as it turns out, the Troops of St. George have taken the reigns and will provide a cookout as they have been doing for the Sundays in which we chant Vespers in the afternoon.
Another question deals with tickets to enter the church for Mass. Where do we get them? How much do they cost? What if we forget them? (OK, so that is more than one question.) This is another issue that we found ourselves rethinking. We obviously cannot sell tickets to attend Mass. People have a right to attend the Holy Sacrifice without cost. Anything they give to the collection is certainly a free-will offering, not a set fee. Those contributions are between the giver and God, ultimately, as to how much and how often they should put money in the basket. But if I sell tickets, that becomes a problem at my own Judgment, when God will ask for accountability for those I may have excluded due to poverty or ability to make it to the “ticket window” on time. Plus, if we give out tickets to our parishioners so that they get the first chance of getting a “good seat” in the church or hall, many will be left extremely unhappy if the crowd is large, for, as mentioned above, we may not be able to fit everyone inside even if just our own parishioners show up en masse to Mass. It would also necessitate having the ushers become a combination of police officers and bouncers, checking tickets at the door, turning away those without tickets, and having to make decisions on who gets in and who stays out. Who wants to turn away the little old lady with a walker who claims to have lost her ticket? Or the huge bruiser in the pin-striped suit pushing his way through with his Boss and Family in tow? (Nah, that would only happen in New York!)
I will end with just one more question for which I have no definitive answer at this time. Will the Mass be streamed live? I personally do not have the technical ability to do that but it still may be done by one or more of our parishioners. There has been talk about it.
Bring your lawn chair and umbrella in case you are outside for Mass or staying for food afterward. Be patient and prayerful and be sure to thank those who are giving up “their spot” in Mass so that they can serve in various ways.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Indigenous People’s Day!
Yay! Monday, October 10, 2022 is Indigenous People’s Day! When I saw that on the calendar (alongside that loathsome official federal holiday, Columbus Day) I got so excited that I almost wet myself. In fact, I may have, except that my tears of joy were so copious that I couldn’t tell whether I had soaked myself from the top or the bottom. In case you don’t know why I would be so overwhelmed with giddiness about this holiday, I will give you a short history lesson. Don’t worry, I will try to make history a little more interesting than what seems to be the standard boring fare of classrooms.
First of all, let me introduce you to Christopher Columbus. He used to be a hero, an explorer, a man of true Faith, and one spoken of quite highly in American schools from elementary through post-graduate classes. But that was way back in the days of the Great Stupidity. Now that we are so much more elitist, enlightened, and generally all around good guys/gods, we know that every single thing he did or stood for was evil. First of all, he was always listed as a “man.” I know, I know. But people used to think that men were men and women were women and never the twain shall be confused for each other. The fact that there is no evidence of him ever calling himself a her, it, or non-binary, a-amorous, ex-gender-differentiated “thing” of any sort proves that he was quite depraved. Worse still, “he” was born and raised in the Republic of Genoa on Italy’s northwest coast, making him a [gasp] European man, which, we all know now, is the worst kind of man that there is. His skin was white and he never claimed to contain one one-hundredth of a percent of any racial minority, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that he is a straight out bigot. And, speaking of “straight,” he was. How could we have ever been so witless as to have honored a straight, white European male who [guffaw] thought he was a man? Surely this shows that he was perverted, yet we celebrated this reprobate with his own holiday. Go figure. Thank Pachamama that at least he didn’t have orange hair, for that would have spelled the end of the universe as we know it. Orange man bad.
But, as preposterous as this may seem to us greatly enlightened people of this day and age, all of those characteristics mentioned above that seem to point so obviously to his being an offensive man/whatever are nothing compared to his worst attribute. He was, gosh, I find this so hard to write, he was C...no, I just can’t make myself write the whole word. Let me go get into my safe space for a little bit until I can stop shaking from this uncontrollable fear. [3 days later] Ok, I think I may be able to make it through this time. Christopher Columbus was a cat. No, that’s not it. He was cathartic. I almost got it out that time. He was Catholic. There! I said it. And I received only a slight tremor in my jab⁴-healthy myocardiacical beating thingy. And he was not just a media-favorite type of Catholic (one who would party with Coccopalmerio and admire the frescos of Paglia) but was a real, honest-to-Gaia practicing and believing Catholic. How did that slip by the censors back then (before Biden gave us the competing holiday way back in 2021)? Those really were the bad ol’ days.
But now for some good news. Let’s take a look at the peaceful, loving, gushing, sweet-as-honey, never-hurt-a-fly indigenous people of the Americas. Although they were too backward to interchange males and females, we can certainly celebrate them because they did not know about—much less believe in—Jesus Christ. They regularly and with great viciousness killed each other, sure enough, but they didn’t really mean much harm. Those were just petty tribal squabbles, that’s all. And when the nasty, evil, straight, white, orange-haired (you know it’s his fault), European men came into their land bringing the Gospel message of Salvation through the love of Jesus Christ and His Church, they responded in the way only peaceful, loving, etc., people would think to respond. With torture and death. Excepting, of course, those cruel, far right, conspiracy theorist, nut job, wackadoodle Indians who accepted the truth and converted. But we need not be inclusive of them, for they were obviously not real indigenous people. Let’s take a look at what compassion the true natives showed to St. Isaac Jogues, for instance. The kindly indigenous people enslaved, tortured, and mutilated him for thirteen months because he was teaching another group of indigenous people, with whom they were at war (but it was a benevolent war) about how to get to Heaven. They chewed off the tips of his two index fingers and possibly his thumbs for the sole purpose of preventing him from celebrating Mass. Obviously, these indigenous people had a far superior religion which should be inculturated into Catholicism today. When he finally escaped and returned to Rome his features were so disfigured by the gentle torture he received that he was unrecognizable. Jogues, the hater sharing the same vile religion as Columbus, having received a dispensation to celebrate Mass even though his “canonical digits” were missing, returned to continue his horrendous mission of saving souls. This time, he was invited by this warm-hearted group of indigenous people to come to the chief’s house, where, upon his entrance, they lovingly crushed his skull with a tomahawk. The way we sometimes show love to partially born babies today.
And now you know why I giddily await the new, merciful, holiday. Class dismissed.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Hurricane Week
If you are reading this, it means that the hurricane was not so bad that the bulletin couldn’t get printed and that you survived it no matter how bad it was. I didn’t yet this year get around to writing about what happens at the parish when a hurricane is threatening. So, although this is a little late for this one, it’s not too late for any that may follow. The basic premise is that I live on the church property so, barring extreme conditions such as the eye of the storm coming directly over Epiphany just before Mass time, I should be able to celebrate Mass and hear confessions on schedule. But you don’t live on campus so you are going to have to make a responsible judgment call about the safety of traveling. If it is not safe for you to come, please stay home! Even if you feel like taking a chance under bad conditions, remember that if you lose the gamble, you will put other people’s lives in jeopardy, especially emergency personnel who will brave all but the worst conditions to try to rescue you. This bulletin had to be written before the storm hit so I cannot tell you how things worked out, but all meetings were canceled Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday just to be safe, with Friday up in the air as I type, as there is still debate about just how long the conditions will be bad, and we don’t know if we will have any electricity or clear roads. This information was sent out over Flocknote, posted on Facebook’s Epiphany page, and noted on the first page of our parish website. These are usually good ways of getting information like this, and if you don’t know how to access any of this, today is a great day to ask someone to help you!
Looking forward and assuming that there is no continued power outage or major damage in our diocese, this coming week is our annual Priest Convocation. Each year we are given the opportunity to gather and have some good food, discussions, teachings, and prayer together. I don’t believe in canceling Masses at the parish so for several years I traveled back and forth between the Bethany Center and Epiphany but it was exhausting and I wound up missing the morning talks and prayers. For a couple of years, I was able to have a Parish Mission given during that week and the priest giving the Mission also took the morning Masses. That way I was able to just stay at the Bethany Center and participate in everything as scheduled. This year, as with the last two covid years we will not have a Parish Mission. But we are having one fairly soon, as it is scheduled for the weekend of November 12/13 and then continuing on through Thursday the 17th. As for the morning convocation talks, I am not all too interested in racing over to hear them. Last year the topic was something like, “Crying together about why nobody is coming to church anymore.” I would have gotten into a lot of trouble if I went to those talks, for I could not have kept my mouth closed about what the problem really is and who is to blame. This year seems to be a similar topic, where we will hear about how to make “disciples” in the parish. As far as I can tell, that simply means that the presenter doesn’t believe that those few who actually stayed or who came back after the covid lockouts are really followers of Christ. My experience here is just so very different from what the other pastors seem to be going through that, once again, I would be in a lot of trouble if I told them what they really need to do to make disciples at each parish. Our Traditional Catholic solution just doesn’t resonate with all too many clergy, it seems.
Now for something strange that I announced last week at Mass. (I am not sure if Fr. Mangiafico also announced what I wrote out.) I said that Friday was First Friday and that my mom, who coordinates everything by making sure people are signed up to Adore every hour of the day, was out of town and therefore couldn’t sign anyone up in person. I was sure that she told me to announce that. And she did, kinda. She also told me to give it some sort of a “Don’t make me turn this car around” type of motherly threat if she came back and we still had hours without anyone signed up. So I dutifully made the announcement. Unfortunately, mom was actually sitting in the pew listening to me announce this, for it was one week earlier than she wanted me to announce it! As you probably know, Hurricane Friday was not First Friday. This coming Friday (probably!) is. So make sure you sign up for First Friday regardless of whether or not mom was able to get out of town. At this time, even her trip out of state is up in the air (so to speak) since she is scheduled to fly out on Hurricane Friday. I won’t know if she made it or not before this gets printed, but if you don’t see her you can assume that her flight didn’t get canceled.
That just about wraps it up for this week. I hope and pray that you made it through the hurricane unscathed. After all, we once again prayed the special Collect, Secret, and Post-Communion prayers to Avert Storms starting on Sunday and continuing until no longer needed. I’m going to assume that those prayers produced fruit for our area.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
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