From the Pastor: Special December Masses, Feasts, and Traditions
Friday, December 8, is a Holy Day of Obligation, the feast of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. “Holy Days” such as this, if you are old enough to remember, used to be joyfully held in reverence and awe, at least as far as I can tell from old liturgical accounts of them. The Catholics of old actually liked having occasional days off of work or school so that they could attend Mass on such special feast days. Traditions grew around these liturgical celebrations so that novenas, litanies, processions, and even special foods were cooked and eaten specifically for the special celebration. Unfortunately for us, it seems that few want to ask for even a couple of hours off of work to attend a Mass of Obligation during the week. HR departments and school admins simply scoff at the notion that a Catholic religious celebration deserves any respect. Thus the US Bishops have acquiesced to the times and either canceled most Holy Days or transferred them to Sundays so as to not inconvenience anyone who worships secularism more than Catholicism. Even so, December still brings us two Holy Days of Obligation, the first being the aforementioned Immaculate Conception on the 8th and the second being Christmas on December 25. So mark your calendars and prepare to show that your Catholic Faith is alive and well. Take those days off so that you can enter more deeply into the Traditional Catholic way of life!
While marking your calendar, you may want to put a special mark on the second Saturday from now, December 16. Please cross the 8:00 am Mass off your calendar and insert a 6:30 am Mass instead. This is our annual Rorate Caeli Mass and it, of its very essence, requires an early morning start. Since there are many new parishioners who may not be aware of this Mass, a short explanation is in order. The Advent Rorate Masses are celebrated in darkness, with only candlelight to illuminate the church. As the Mass continues, the daylight grows stronger, as if the signified Light of the World, Jesus Christ, is finally dawning upon us. The Savior is bud forth in the East (or Orient, which, as an aside, is why the term Ad Orientem—to the East—is used when the priest faces East—or at least liturgical East as at Epiphany—along with the congregation, as all are looking expectantly to the Orient for the return of Our Lord in His Majestic Glory), the land is blessed, and the Catholics are set free from the dark captivity of sin. Jesus came to save us from sin, to bring light to those in darkness and the shadow of death. He came through, and is magnified by, the Blessed Virgin Mary, without whom we would find no Savior, and merit no salvation. There may be several reasons to sleep in that morning, but if you make the effort to attend this glorious candlelight Mass, I think you will be hooked and make it a yearly event. Did I mention that there will be food after Mass?
You might think that what has already been mentioned is enough for one article. Yet, there is more. Again, for those new to the parish, unless you came from a Polish, Slovak, or Lithuanian family, you may not be aware of an old Christmas Eve tradition of prayer, thanksgiving, and forgiveness entailing the sharing of the Oplatek. An oplatek (plural: oplatki) is an unleavened and very thin rectangular bread, usually embossed with some sort of Nativity-related scene. It is made the same way that traditional Mass hosts are, using only wheat flour and water (although some may contain a small amount of food dye to color them). They are never consecrated, although they may be blessed by the priest, as ours will be. These are meant to be taken home for the Wigilia, or Christmas Eve gathering of the family. Although details of this custom do vary, the basic format remains constant. On Christmas Eve the entire family gathers for a full day of celebrating the end of the penitential season of Advent and the coming of the Christ Child in just a few more hours. This used to be a day of abstinence (though not a day of fasting), so the great evening feast, which consisted of many courses (7, 9, and 13 are listed in various sources but my older sister insists that there must be 12 courses, and she is a better source than most of my other sources!), was completely meatless. Appetizers, soups, fish dishes, and desserts were prepared. The table was strewn with a light layer of straw (reminiscent of the straw lining the baby Jesus’ manger) and covered with a white tablecloth (swaddling clothes). There were place settings for everyone plus one extra in case a beggar or unexpected guest came by. But before anyone dared to touch the food, the father of the family would take an oplatek, break it and share a piece of it with his wife. As he gave it to her he would ask her forgiveness for any harms he had done to her during the past year and ask special blessings for her in the upcoming one. She would then break off another piece from her piece of the oplatek and share it with the child next to her, and do the same. From one to another, each would follow suit. Only after the oplatki pieces were all distributed and consumed was the main meal eaten. (This is, of course, just a short version. Ask your babcia for more details!)
By next week I should have the oplatki ready for you to take home in preparation for Christmas Eve. Oh, how fast time flies!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Special Guest For Thanksgiving!
Sometimes Thanksgiving dinner at the rectory is just plain unbelievable. And believe you me, you should believe me when I tell you that this year was one of the most unbelievable ones. After all, how can you believe as accurate an account of a family gathering that was written days before it happened so that the bulletin could be printed before the staff left for their holiday days off? Be that as it may, here is a tall tale of Thanksgiving at Epiphany, 2023.
This year the family gathering was a bit larger than normal since the family is expanding as “children” from the generation behind me have begun starting families of their own and everyone was in town for this holiday. The plan was for everyone to come to Epiphany for the 8:00 am Mass and then start cooking as soon as Adoration and Confessions were concluded. Two of my in-laws were engaged in a friendly competition to see who could outcook the other, and each one started with two turkeys. My sister Karen’s husband Lee, the reigning champ of all family cookoffs, chose to roast the first of his turkeys over charcoal, and the other went into a smoker with applewood pellets. The young challenger, Fr. Nick Ward (brother to Maggie, who this year married Lee’s oldest son, Ryan) went with a classic cajun turkey deep-fried in peanut oil, and, in a surprise move, decided to concoct a very large turkey rotisserie for his second bird. Other family members were in charge of making fresh buns and bread, cookies, four types of pies, two cheesecakes, cranberry sauce, potatoes cooked three different ways, green beans, various types of stuffing and dressing, and probably more that I cannot now recall. A few volunteered to do the decorating of the hall and the picnic tables, while others were in charge of drinks. And, of course, the children “helped” by getting in everyone’s way and helped even more by going off to play.
Of course, plans and reality oftentimes don’t meet when families get together, especially if the family includes Aunt Irma. We never know exactly what to expect from her but this time her “unexpectedness” was actually something wonderful. Too wonderful, as you will soon see, but wonderful nonetheless. She has been traveling quite a bit this year and earlier this month, for reasons nobody really knows, she found herself in Baltimore during the recent United States Bishops’ Conference. The last time she had attended one of these, you may recall, she was protesting their lack of courage in calling out immoral Bishops within their fraternity. Nothing changed, so she gave up protesting outside of their meetings. But this year, completely by accident, it seems, she was in town once again. She was blissfully unaware that a certain Bishop had recently been dismissed from his job because he was doing it too well. All she knew was that she was driving down to Florida for Thanksgiving and there, along the roadside, she spotted a lone Bishop with a backpack sticking out his thumb, hoping for a ride. At first, she thought he must be a fake Bishop because he was in clerics and was neither obese nor a weightlifter. But she took a chance and pulled over for him anyway. It turns out that he had come for the conference of Bishops but was unceremoniously turned away when they learned that he not only knew all of the mysteries of the rosary, but he actually prayed it daily. The papal nuncio had plastered the walls of their hotel with “unwanted” posters of this Bishop and a warning that any Bishop found praying and/or telling the truth would soon meet the same fate as this poor fellow. Undaunted, he simply knelt in prayer for the Bishops of the country and the whole world and started his long, sad trek home. As Aunt Irma had so kindly offered him a lift, he felt “mighty obliged, Ma’am” to accept her offer to spend Thanksgiving with her family. And so he showed up early on Thursday morning. Angels must have spread the news, for somehow hundreds of people knew that he was going to celebrate the 8:00 Mass and they showed up en masse to the Mass. We wound up having a Pontifical Solemn Mass and, although he had never celebrated the TLM before, our altar boys and MCs are so proficient that they were able to make sure he was in the right place at the right time and everything went off without a hitch. He prayed his way through the Mass like an apostle, not just a successor to one. And, sure enough, as soon as the Blessed Sacrament was exposed after Mass, he headed to the confessional. All of us priests heard confessions for two hours straight before the last repentant sinner was absolved. Then the Bishop took all of the priests aside to give us a chance to get to know him and him, us.
That, of course, threw off the timing of the cooking and preparation for the day’s feast. Lee had to cook all four of the birds himself so he is still the undisputed king of the competition. We will see if his new son-in-law can handle the pressure of a rematch sometime in the future. Even though most of the crowd stayed and enjoyed the whole day we had enough food, drinks, and prayers for everyone. And right now, as you read this, Aunt Irma is dropping off a canceled Bishop in a place that he used to call home. Unfortunately, none of us thought to ask his name...
With prayers for your holiness
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Quite a Week!
Last week was busy around here, and it was a good busy. First of all, our parish mission was a huge success, as measured by the spiritual benefits bestowed upon all who were present for the multiple Masses and conferences. Many thanks to Canon Talarico and Canon Huberfeld for all of the holy insights imparted upon this community! I knew the mission was going to be a great gift to the community by seeing how the demons attacked our AC systems when the priests first showed up and then continued to do so throughout the week. Our rectory AC on the bottom floor, where my office is, as well as the chapel, kitchen, and laundry room, froze up and quit working the day they arrived. We were able to get it working again, but it sure is strange timing. One other time a mission was being held here the upper floor AC went out, making for miserable sleeping conditions in very hot weather. That time the fix took longer to happen. Then, as you probably noticed if you stayed for coffee and donuts last Sunday, the AC in the social hall quit working. Rebooting the system, resetting the breakers, and kicking the units didn’t seem to do much of anything. Then one night, during a “heated” mission talk, I was sitting next to the thermostat and decided to turn the compressors off and keep the fans running. All I accomplished was having the thermostat blink on and off, on and off, on and off, making clicking sounds as it did so, for the next five minutes or so before the screen finally just stayed blank completely. Turning the compressors from “cool” to “off” and the fan from “auto” to “on” should not have had that effect. But the demons seem to love working through all electronic devices, and revel in doing the most ridiculous things to show that, or at least make it seem like, they are in charge. But the next morning, although the system was supposedly shut off, it was freezing in the hall! The thermostat screen was back on, the compressors were on, the fans were on, and, although showing that the temperature was set for 74 degrees, it was also showing the actual temperature of 68! No amount of settings changes made any difference at all. But which is worse for sitting through a mission talk? 82 degrees or 68? Half the congregation likes it hot while the other half likes it cold. It seems that the demons figured that they would negatively affect those who found the previously high temperatures quite nice so as to not allow anyone to enjoy the whole mission in this regard! But what they failed to do is realize that the talks were good enough that everyone was willing to “suffer” (or, more accurately, put up with a very small inconvenience) for a while in order to grow in holiness. By the time this bulletin is published, we may even have the AC working properly again. If not, mildly hot or cold temperatures won’t hurt anyone all too much.
Not to be overlooked, we have a new addition to the front of the church building. The Baker family had, many years ago, decades, even, donated the very large wooden cross that was attached to the front right side of the church front. Over the years the wood had not only been weathered by the sun and rain but had also been munched on by termites. (Do you remember the huge black tarps covering the church shortly after we arrived as we exterminated those pests?) It was in need of being replaced and the Knights of Columbus volunteered to take on the project for the parish. They replaced the plain wooden cross with a very nice crucifix. After the 10:30 Sunday Mass last week I solemnly blessed the crucifix in the presence of the two mission priests, Fr. Mangiafico, the altar boys who had just served Mass, and whoever made it out the front doors in time for the blessing. The next time you look up at that crucifix, please say a prayer for the repose of the souls of any of the Bakers who have passed since the original donation and for blessings upon any who are still with us, as well as our Knights of Columbus who worked so hard to make this replacement a truly noble and worthy gift to the parish. I’m sure the Bakers would be proud.
One more very notable thing happened last week, and, although it was not at Epiphany, it still is worth noting, as it affects the Church throughout (especially, though not exclusively) the entire US. Bishop Joseph Strickland was unceremoniously and, seemingly at least (to give every benefit of the doubt), without cause, forced out of his role as Bishop of the Diocese of Tyler, Texas. Speaking the truth about what is happening in Rome is absolutely necessary for a priest or Bishop’s own salvation as well as that of his flock, and, under normal circumstances, he would be commended for doing so. But at a time when Fr. Rupnik can molest dozens of religious Sisters and still preach a Papal Retreat, still retain his faculties, and even be incardinated into a diocese; at a time when Religious Sisters, priests, and Bishops can openly promote homosexual unions and the blessings thereof; at a time when Bishops and Cardinals bow down in prayer before Pachamama; and when all of the aforementioned evildoers remain in good standing and are even shown approval, the faithful, bold sister, priest, or Bishop who simply does what God expects a faithful servant to do will not be tolerated. Please pray for Bishop Strickland. “Blessed are they that suffer persecution for justice’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” (Mt. 5:10)
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Progressive Priests? Not For Long!
A study of a study, with the unwieldy title, “Polarization, Generational Dynamics, and the Ongoing Impact of the Abuse Crisis: Further Insights from the National Study of Catholic Priests” has just been published. If you want my quick summary and then wish to quit reading further, here are three of the main points. 1. The wildly progressive priests are dying or retiring. 2. The priests taking their places are mostly orthodox in their theology. 3. Priests don’t trust their bishop if he is not orthodox in his theology. Here is how the authors described the origin and purpose of this new paper:
In October 2022, The Catholic Project at the Catholic University of America released initial findings from The National Study of Catholic Priests*, the largest survey of American Catholic priests in over fifty years. That study involved three primary components:
• A survey of 10,000 Catholic priests, receiving 3,516 respondents across 191 dioceses/eparchies (36% valid response rate).
• In-depth qualitative interviews with more than 100 priests selected from survey respondents.
• A census survey of U.S. bishops, receiving 131 responses (67% valid response rate).
Since the publication of initial findings from that survey, researchers at Catholic University and elsewhere have continued to study and analyze the data. This report highlights several themes which have emerged from closer analysis of the quantitative data, as well as careful study of the qualitative data collected from the one-on-one interviews with priests.
Here is the beginning of the paper’s insight. My comments will follow.
Political polarization in the United States has been a common and growing concern in recent years, as have concerns about growing polarization within religious communities including the Catholic Church. Our data does show a significant divide between the political and theological self-identification of older priests and younger priests.
Yet the data also suggests that the American presbyterate is, over time, becoming less polarized. Simply put, the portion of new priests who see themselves as politically “liberal” or theologically “progressive” has been steadily declining since the Second Vatican Council and has now all but vanished.
This decline is especially stark theologically. Asked to describe “their views on most matters having to do with theology and doctrines” on a scale from “very progressive” to “very conservative/orthodox,” there are significant cohort differences (Figure 1). More than half of the priests who were ordained since 2010 see themselves on the conservative side of the scale. No surveyed priests who were ordained after 2020 described themselves as “very progressive.”
Yes, priests are becoming less polarized for one simple reason. The “progressive” end of the spectrum of priests rarely encouraged vocations and certainly never taught a good reason for anyone to become or remain Catholic, let alone dedicate his life to being a Catholic priest. As they die off, they do so without “reproducing” so to speak. The newer priests, especially those entering seminary after the 2002 major priest scandals, went in to fight for the Truth, not to change it. They looked with horror at the beliefs and actions of the priests making the news and said, “That is not a priest at all. I will be a real priest! I will be faithful in words and actions. I believe what the Church teaches, will live it to the best of my ability, and will proclaim it to the people in its full glory!” The progressives die, and their replacements are really Catholic, so there is now very little overlap, thus, no polarization!
Regarding the trust priests have in their bishops, which varied widely across dioceses from 100% trust down to as low as 9% trust, the authors state:
If a priest describes himself as theologically conservative, for example, and he believes that his bishop is also theologically conservative, it is likely that he would report a high degree of trust in his bishop. In contrast, if a priest reported that he did not align with his bishop on theological matters, he would predictably report low trust in his bishop’s leadership; a similar line exists for political values.
Well, of course. If a priest is orthodox and his bishop is “progressive” (see 2 John 1:9 in the New American Bible Anyone who is so “progressive” as not to remain in the teaching of the Christ does not have God) the priest cannot trust his bishop to faithfully teach, preach, and act on Catholic faith, morals and discipline. Likewise, if the bishop politically aligns himself with the party of death, socialist, or communist parties, he must not be trusted, as those political parties are at odds with the Catholic Church on issues with the greatest moral significance!
Further insights may also be found in this document, so I have added a link to it on our parish website. Enjoy the good news!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: This is a Big Week!
This weekend, perhaps even as you are reading this (3:00 pm Sunday, October 29), Bishop Parkes is holding a special ceremony at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle at which he bestows the St. Jude award to one recipient from each parish. This award is given to somebody who has done much good for the parish, usually behind the scenes and unnoticed by most, without any thought of payment or acknowledgment except for the reward they may or may not receive in Heaven. This year the award is being received by Clara Miller. Although she is just a tad over, ahem, 39 years old, lives in Dade City, and doesn’t drive on the interstate, she has, for years, managed to come to daily Mass at 6:30 am, stay for the 8:00 am Mass and the Adoration which follows, and she sometimes stays even longer if there is a parish function following that. She puts in a full day’s worth of “work” as she spends so much time in prayer! She generally only misses due to inconveniently scheduled doctor appointments or really bad weather. Of course, she also attends Sunday Mass and stays to chat with a group of friends for hours afterward, sometimes long after the coffee and donuts have run out. Congratulations Clara! You are an inspiration to us all.
Wednesday, November 1, is All Saints Day, a Holy Day of Obligation. We will have our regular weekday Masses at 6:30 and 8:00 in the morning and another Mass at 7:00 pm. On this special day, we commemorate all of those people who died in a state of grace and, being perfectly purified, are now in Heaven. We do this to make up for any shortcomings in our manner of celebrating canonized Saints’ feasts as well as commemorating the majority of Saints in Heaven who will never be officially recognized by the Church through her canonization process. This is a feast for all of the “secret” Saints in this regard! And, just as it always does, All Souls Day immediately follows All Saints. Thursday, November 2, we commemorate all of those people who died in a state of grace without yet being perfectly purified and are currently undergoing the cleansing fire spoken of in Sacred Scripture. We ask God to grant them—quickly—whatever graces of which they are still in need before they can enter into His Divine Presence. On that day, too, we will have the two regular Masses in the morning (6:30 am and 8:00 am) and an extra 7:00 pm Mass in the evening. People write the names of their departed loved ones and give them to me so that we can offer the Masses for them that day and remember them at each Mass throughout the remainder of the month. If you have not yet done so, don’t procrastinate any longer! The 2nd is also our parish’s second day to pray at the abortuary, so plan on spending some time in prayer there, as well. Sign up if you haven’t already done so.
The entire month of November is dedicated to the Poor Souls, as these suffering souls are known, and the Church allows for plentiful opportunities to relieve them of some or all of their torments, especially through a generous octave of Indulgences. From November 1 through November 8, inclusive of both of those dates, a Plenary Indulgence may be gained and applied to a soul in Purgatory simply by visiting a cemetery and praying for the departed. A plenary indulgence is the complete remission of all temporal punishment due to previously forgiven sins, so the soul in purgatory who receives one, through God’s grace and mercy given through His Church, is made perfect and able to enter into the Beatific Vision. You may also receive a Plenary Indulgence applicable to a Poor Soul on All Souls Day by visiting any parish church and praying aloud one Our Father and one Creed. Since you are likely going to be at Mass that day anyway, you might as well get an indulgence while you are there! Remember, though, that you can only get one Plenary Indulgence per day, so if you also visit the cemetery and pray for the departed that day, one of these indulgences may be Plenary and the other partial (removing only part of the temporal punishment). Partial Indulgences are granted to anyone who recites Morning Prayer (Lauds) or Evening Prayer (Vespers) of the Office of the Dead on those days. Partial Indulgences are also available for a poor soul if anyone recites the prayer “Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord, and let perpetual light shine upon them. May they rest in peace. Amen.”
To receive either type of indulgence you must be in a state of grace before the indulgenced act or prayer is completed. To get a Plenary Indulgence, you must also confess your sins and receive Holy Communion either shortly before or after the act or prayers (within 8 or perhaps even 20 days), pray for the intentions of the Holy Father, and be detached from all sin, even venial sin. Is it difficult to achieve such a lofty goal? It is harder for some than for others, but it is worth it. Plus, habitually living in such a manner as to be worthy to receive the indulgences becomes almost second nature with practice, and soon you will become a living Saint as you help the Faithful Departed become Saints!
Lastly, don’t forget that the following two days are First Friday and First Saturday! Be sure to sign up for Friday Adoration and attend to the devotions asked for on both of those days. Is it too much all in one week? Not for Saints-in-training!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Reminder of Purgatory
This is a reminder that All Souls Day, is coming soon. There is only one more Sunday before that day (Thursday, November 2) on which to bring in your list of the Faithful Departed whom you wish to have remembered at Mass. Unless and until Holy Mother Church declares any departed person to be in Heaven we rightfully pray for their soul in case they are still in need of final purification before entering for all eternity into the presence of God. Also, remember that the first 8 days of November will bring opportunities to receive, on behalf of a soul in purgatory, a plenary indulgence by visiting a cemetery and praying for the poor souls. In past years I have often written here about the official Church teachings on Purgatory. Today I will instead leave you with just one heart-touching story of Purgatory from an undated work Read Me or Rue It by Fr. Paul O'Sullivan.
HOW A GIRL FOUND HER MOTHER
A poor servant girl in France named Jeanne Marie once heard a sermon on the Holy Souls which made an indelible impression on her mind. She was deeply moved by the thought of the intense and unceasing sufferings the Poor Souls endure, and she was horrified to see how cruelly they are neglected and forgotten by their friends on Earth. Among other things the preacher stressed was that many souls who are in reality near to their release -- one Mass might suffice to set them free -- are oftentimes long detained; it may be for years, just because the last needful suffrage has been withheld or forgotten or neglected! With her simple faith, Jeanne Marie resolved that, cost what it might, she would have a Mass said for the Poor Souls every month, especially for the soul nearest to Heaven. She earned little, and it was sometimes difficult to keep her promise, but she never failed. On one occasion she went to Paris with her mistress and there fell ill, so that she was obliged to go to the hospital. Unfortunately, the illness proved to be a long one, and her mistress had to return home, hoping that her maid would soon rejoin her. When at last the poor servant was able to leave the hospital, all she had left of her scanty earnings was one franc! What was she to do? Where to turn? Suddenly, the thought flashed across her mind that she had not had her usual monthly Mass offered for the Holy Souls. But she had only one franc! That was little enough to buy her food. Yet her confidence that the Holy Souls would not fail her triumphed. She made her way into a church and asked a priest, just about to say Mass, if he would offer it for the Holy Souls. He consented to do so, never dreaming that the modest alms offered was the only money the poor girl possessed. At the conclusion of the Holy Sacrifice, our heroine left the church. A wave of sadness clouded her face; she felt utterly bewildered. A young gentleman, touched by her evident distress, asked her if she was in trouble and if he could help her. She told her story briefly, and ended by saying how much she desired work. Somehow she felt consoled at the kind way in which the young man listened to what she said, and she fully recovered her confidence. "I am delighted beyond measure," he said, "to help you. I know a lady who is even now looking for a servant. Come with me." And so saying he led her to a house not far distant and bade her ring the bell, assuring her that she would find work. In answer to her ring, the lady of the house herself opened the door and inquired what Jeanne Marie required. "Madam," she said, "I have been told that you are looking for a servant. I have no work and should be glad to get the position." The lady was amazed and replied: "Who could have told you that I needed a servant? It was only a few minutes ago that I had to dismiss my maid, and that at a moment's notice. You did not meet her?" "No, Madam. The person who informed me that you required a servant was a young gentleman." "Impossible!" exclaimed the lady. "No young man, in fact no one at all, could have known that I needed a servant." "But Madam," the girl answered excitedly, pointing to a picture on the wall, "that is the young man who told me!" "Why, child, that is my only son, who has been dead for more than a year!" "Dead or not," asserted the girl with deep conviction in her voice, "it was he who told me to come to you, and he even led me to the door. See the scar over his eye; I would know him anywhere." Then followed the full story of how, with her last franc, she had had Mass offered for the Holy Souls, especially for the one nearest to Heaven. Convinced at last of the truth of what Jeanne Marie had told her, the lady received her with open arms. "Come," she said, "though not as my servant, but as my dear daughter. You have sent my darling boy to Heaven. I have no doubt that it was he who brought you to me."
With or without a donation or All Souls envelope, place your list of departed family, friends and even, perhaps, enemies in the collection basket next Sunday. The All Souls Day Masses will be offered for the repose of their souls, plus we will pray for them at each Mass throughout the rest of the month. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Climate Change Document
While I was at the Convocation last week a new document on “climate change” came out of Rome. I don’t know if any of you follow the writings of William Briggs, a Catholic statistician who writes with clarity about such things. Below is a small smattering of his take on this, which I changed by what he calls “paragraphication.” I pass this on to you mostly because I didn’t write anything while on Convocation and need to fill this spot! But secondarily, I wanted to introduce you to this author, for his ability to use logic and actual science instead of emotion and “models” is quite refreshing. His latest book, “Everything You Believe Is Wrong” is, for instance, truly a good read as he points out the flawed arguments made every day by so-called “experts.” You can find him at https://www.wmbriggs.com/
The Vatican’s New Exhortation On “Climate Change” Has Many Errors
BY BRIGGS ON OCTOBER 5, 2023
The Vatican issued a new Apostolic Exhortation, given in the name of Pope Francis, entitled Laudate Deum. The document is addressed “To all people of good will on the climate crisis.” There is no “climate crisis.” It does not exist. It is not so. I (and many others) have spent years and years documenting an enormous number of arguments showing there is no “climate crisis” (a small handful here). Whoever wrote this exhortation has based it on a false premise. And, as Aristotle taught us, from a false premise come the greatest errors. Like this error: “the world in which we live is collapsing and may be nearing the breaking point.” Passing by the needlessly frightening “breaking point”, we note that this sentence is not so. The world is not collapsing, not due to “climate change” anyway. The West is collapsing, it is true, but in part because of unnecessary hersteria (effeminate hysteria) over “climate change”.
Overreaction like this: “We will feel [climate change’s] effects in the areas of healthcare, sources of employment, access to resources, housing, forced migrations, etc.” Whoever wrote suffers from a now common inability to imagine changes in the environment that are not bad. Because it is not physically possible that all changes in climate are bad, because some changes are good (like increased plant and crop growth and warmer weather), sentences like this reveal more about the author’s mind than it does about the world.
Now for a theological curiosity: “African bishops stated that climate change makes manifest ‘a tragic and striking example of structural sin’.” This is false. Every plant, animal, and even every inanimate object affects the atmosphere, and hence the climate. Is impossible—not unlikely: impossible—that whatever is on earth not to affect the climate. The climate on earth has never been static, and never will be static. It cannot be static. It is impossible to stop climate change. A changing climate is not a sin. Rise up, Peter, kill and eat. Man, like all other animals, must affect his environment to live—and even to die. Certainly there will be, at times, excess; for instance in the over-vigorous production of the tracking devices we insist on carrying with us everywhere. All excess should and must be condemned. Gluttony and greed are not new sins. They are sins. “Climate change” is not a sin.
There are many factual errors in the document, which were easy to check, but were not. For instance, “the signs of climate change are here and increasingly evident”. The climate is always changing, so that is true, but the one must understand that when the phrase “climate change” is used by the untutored they mean the theory of “climate crisis”; they take this theory as proven. Yet this is not so. It continues: “it is verifiable that specific climate changes provoked by humanity are notably heightening the probability of extreme phenomena that are increasingly frequent and intense.” This is false, and easily seen to be false. All these attribution studies are fundamentally flawed. They are all premised on perfect model predictions, a false premise. Details are at the link. Another: “we are presently experiencing is an unusual acceleration of warming” (and more similar rate-of-change claims later in the document). Not so. Historical data come from models of temperature by proxy, which necessarily smooths values; whereas current values are much more variable because of the increased frequency of measurement. This gives an entirely false picture of rate-of-change if one is not careful. The amount of uncertainty in actual changes is too large to make the claim. Another: “melting of glaciers can be easily perceived by an individual in his or her lifetime”. It has grown warmer (thank God) in some years. What happens to ice when it is hot? It melts. That melting is taken as (separate) proof that the theory for the warmth is therefore true. But there are alternate theories, which make the same, and better predictions. Other, better, rival theories besides “global boiling” or “climate crisis” exist. These are supported by the same evidence of melting glaciers. Another: “Droughts and floods, the dried-up lakes, communities swept away by seaquakes and flooding ultimately have the same origin.” This is false. Droughts and floods are down, not up, and their harms are down, not up. And seaquakes caused by “climate change”? No.
These are followed by a surreal claim that some blame “climate change” on the poor, and women. I have studied this subject for decades and have never heard this, from any source, even once. Yet if somebody has made this preposterous claim, they are wrong. Or perhaps this is a mere appeal to pity.
Anyway, read the rest of his article at the website listed above. He actually has the credentials needed to make such critiques, in case you were wondering, and is not just some Catholic knucklehead with a keyboard and a grudge against the Church or Her leaders.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Follow-ups to Last Week's Items
1) Because this item was the last of four items of note last week, it seems that nobody read it, so here goes one more shot at this. Every year the priests of the diocese get together from Monday afternoon through Thursday afternoon during the first full week of October in what is officially called the Convocation for Priestly Renewal. For as long as the Bethany Center has been open as our Diocesan Retreat Center, we have met there. We pray together, we share meals together, we hear some talks, we shoot the breeze, and enjoy priestly fraternity. Late nights are a given, especially when the Rays are in the playoffs and have night games. Sometimes the people giving the talks and are worth listening to and sometimes not so much, just as in any organization. But the main attraction is just having time to spend with other priests. Many of us only see each other on rare occasions when we are at meetings or large diocesan Masses, when there is no time to do more than just say “hello” or wave a greeting across a room. Some parishes cancel Masses during the Convocation. I choose not to do so. I used to get up early (after the late night) to drive back to celebrate Mass and then drive back for the morning talk. It was not ideal. So I started having parish missions held during that week so that the mission preacher could celebrate the morning Masses and I could more fully enjoy the convocation. Covid threw a monkey wrench into that plan a couple of years ago as the Mission preachers were put under travel restrictions by their Bishop. This year we have our parish Mission already scheduled for November 11-16, so I didn’t schedule a Mission for the Convocation. You may recall that the Bishop wants me to show up at more diocesan functions so I will once again travel back and forth. But I will not be able to stay long enough to offer confessions and Adoration on Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday. So please note this and don’t call me or the office or write questions about it on farcebook: The Monday and Friday schedule is as normal but on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday (October 3, 4, and 5) there will be Mass as normal at 6:30 am and 8:00 am but without confession or Adoration following Mass on those three days, as I must return to the Bethany Center for the mid-morning talks. I highly recommend that you don’t ask anyone in the office if there will be Adoration or confessions next week, for physical harm may come to you as one or more staff members smack you upside the head with a rolled-up bulletin while yelling, “DOESN’T ANYONE READ THIS THING?”
2) Bishop Parkes was at our Deanery meeting this week. (The diocese is broken into “deaneries” much as Florida is broken into counties.) He made a point of telling me in person what he recently emailed, that he is still receiving, on a near-daily basis, letters and notes of support and encouragement from our parishioners, including from our children. He also saw that our parish contributions to the Catholic Mission Appeal are going up and he was pleased with our continuing progress on that. Keep it up! Your letters are allowing him to see that we appreciate his work as our Bishop, not only, but especially, as he works to keep the Traditional Latin Mass to remain at a time when they are being canceled in other places.
3) I wrote about a petition being put forth to change the Florida State Constitution in such a way that all abortion restrictions would be eliminated, making us one of the “abortion tourist destination states” that so many despicable and evil people are desperately trying (and sometimes succeeding) to make a reality. Bishop Parkes and the Florida Bishops’ Conference have been sending out warnings about this, asking people to refrain from signing their petitions to get it on the ballot. It seems that many people sign such petitions without even bothering to read what they are supporting. But the day after I wrote and sent the article to be printed in the bulletin, a parishioner came in and showed me another—polar opposite—petition being circulated to change the Florida State Constitution in such a way that the right to life shall be recognized and protected for all preborn humans. It seems to have been drafted specifically in opposition to the anti-life petition. Should the petition gather enough signatures to be put on the ballot, the ballot title for this one will read, “Human Life Protection Amendment.” Please remember that the evil ballot initiative is called “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion.” They are competing with each other as good vs. evil and, if you are not aware that there is a “good” one as well as an “evil” one, you may immediately dismiss the people trying to get you to sign the one protecting the unborn children. A website where you can see the complete petition, sign it yourself, and even print out copies for others to sign is, “https://humanlifefl.com/”. The ballot summary (the short version that voters will see should it make it on the ballot) sums up the proposed Constitutional Amendment thusly, “An amendment recognizing the God-given right to life of the preborn individual. Defines ‘preborn individual’ as a preborn human person at any stage of development. Affirms that life-saving procedures to save the life of the mother shall not be construed as a violation when accompanied by reasonable steps to save the life of the preborn individual. To be added to the Declaration of Rights under Article I of the Florida Constitution.” Be sure to sign the right one!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Odds and Ends
1) Last week I received the following email from Bishop Parkes. He asked me to extend his thanks to you for your “expressions of support and gratitude.” I wish also to express my thanks to all of you who have thus far sent him the notes and letters he references. It shows that he knows that you are paying attention to what he is doing on our behalf, that you really do support him, and that you are not somehow “outsiders” in the Diocese but rather are a dear part of his flock. If you have not yet sent him a card, please do so. One day I hope he becomes convinced that we are not just fairweather friends but faithful Catholics who—of course(!)—support their Bishop in all things Catholic! The parish contributions to his Catholic Ministry Appeal keep growing, too, which, although he is too refined to mention it, is something that I am sure he pays attention to as well. We still only have 23% participation in the appeal, so if you plan to give to this appeal yet have been procrastinating, this is a good time to follow through on your donations as well. Thank you for your generosity! Here is his email. Dear Fr. Edwin, I hope that you are doing well and feeling ok. I just heard that you were recently ill. I wanted to let you know that I have received many cards and letters from parishioners at Epiphany Parish over the past several weeks. This includes notes received from children as well as adults. Almost all have expressed appreciation and gratitude that the Dicastery has granted an additional two years for the celebration of TLM. They are also appreciative of my efforts in requesting this permission. Please extend my thanks to your parishioners for their expressions of support and gratitude. And most importantly, for their prayers. May you have a blessed weekend! Sincerely yours in Christ, + Gregory L. Parkes, Bishop of St. Petersburg
2) Fr. Vincent Capuano, S.J. sent this short but sweet message. The ACU has a women's retreat scheduled for Thursday, January 18 to Sunday, January 21. Manresa retreat house Miami. Same as last year.They asked me to direct it. Send a message on whatsapp to Erik Vieria 352-263-7201 to register. Of course, if you know Fr. Vincent, you know that this retreat will be worth attending, even though it means a drive to Miami. For those of you who may be new here and don’t remember him from his years of assisting here, I can assure you that the initials, “S.J.” after his name are not the scary initials of the (unfortunately) typical Jesuit of this day and age. He is an outstanding Catholic priest. Yes, Jesuit and Catholic. Really.
3) There is an amendment to the Florida Constitution being proposed that needs your attention. Please go to suncoastcatholics.org for more information, but here are some highlights. The “Amendment to Limit Government Interference with Abortion” is in the petition stage right now, meaning that if enough signatures are collected it will be on the ballot in November of 2024. From the above-mentioned website, here is what will happen if it gets passed.
This unGodly amendment will:
4) Our annual Priests’ Convocation is coming up soon. From the afternoon of October 2 through the afternoon of October 5 most of the priests of the Diocese of St. Petersburg will be gathering at the Bethany Center for prayer, meals, and talks. The topic at hand this year is National Eucharistic Revival: A Grassroots Response to God’s Invitation. I will be attending the convocation this year so you won’t be able to make appointments with me that week. The morning Masses will continue as scheduled but more than likely there will not be confessions or Adoration after the 8:00 Masses so that I can get back to hear the morning talks at the convocation. Of course, should there be a need that requires me to be here, such as a Requiem Mass, the parish comes first on my list of priorities. But it would be very nice if you all, as you have been so kind to do in the past, refrain from dying at such a time as to require my presence at Epiphany!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: From 8/16/15 when Epiphany's TLM was new.
Here is a question raised now that Epiphany has become the Center for the Traditional Latin Mass™ in Tampa. Why don’t we (the congregation) make the responses at the low Mass? Answer: Because I said so. Yes, for those of you who are raising children, you know this is a pretty stock answer to any question that you would rather not answer because either 1. you don’t know the answer or 2. the explanation would be beyond the ability of the child to grasp or 3. you are short on time (or patience) or 4. for any other good parental reason. But that is not a very fulfilling answer. So here is a “real” answer.
I don’t know the TLM very well. I have no formal training in it and I did not grow up with it. All I knew about it when I started came from books and the insights of several adult altar boys. I think I celebrated the Low Mass for about two years before I could even attend one and see if I was doing it right. While some of the old books I consulted mentioned a “dialogue Mass” in which the congregation responded, it was almost always put forth as a novelty that never really caught on in most places. Exceptions to the “silent Mass” seemed to be mostly limited to places where altar boys were not available, such as cloistered convents and all-girls schools. At such places, one or two Sisters or female students were allowed to kneel outside of the altar rail and make the responses in place of the altar boys (who were themselves, in fact, making the responses in place of additional clergy). Upon seeing that the “dialogue” in the Mass was originally between priests and between the priest celebrant and God the Father, it made sense to me that the congregation remained silent. Altar boys (men) who helped train me came from a TLM which was a “silent Mass” and the first TLM which I finally attended was also a “silent Mass” so I naturally started with and continued with a silent Mass.
I have a respected How-to-TLM type of book by Rev. J.B. O’Connell in which he writes, “At low Mass, in which the people are not participating by common prayer or song...” and contrasts it with a “sung Mass.” This is a pretty clear indicator that at the low Mass the people are silent, neither responding to the prayers, joining in with the responses, nor singing. But later he adds an appendix on “the active participation of the people in the Liturgy.” In this section, he gives directions to be followed if the people are to engage in a “dialogue” Mass. He first states that “participation” in the Mass is already achieved when the people “spontaneously share in the Mass by due attention to its principal parts and by their external behavior” (in other words, by silently praying, sitting, standing, kneeling, striking the breast, making the threefold sign of the cross on the head, lips and breast at the introduction to the Gospel, dressing appropriately, keeping custody of the eyes, etc.). Then he gives other ways of participating. “If possible, they ought to follow the Mass in a Missal--at least in a small Missal arranged for the use of the laity--but if they cannot do this they should meditate on the mysteries of Jesus Christ and say prayers in keeping with the sacred rites. Better still they should pray aloud and sing hymns in common--prayers and song in accord with the different parts of the Mass at which they are used. Such common prayers and hymns should not, however, be said or sung when the celebrant of Mass is reciting aloud important parts of the Mass, especially the presidential prayers (such as the Collect, Preface, Postcommunion). And silence is desirable from the Consecration to Pater noster.” Whew! So in the low Mass the congregation can “better participate” by praying together the rosary or stations of the cross, for instance, as long as they know when to shut up? Yes! Now I have to ask those who attend the Low Mass: would you be able to understand and pray the Mass more fully if everybody started singing hymns and/or praying the Litany of the Sacred Heart together at some point and then abruptly became silent and then started again somewhere along the line? I don’t think so.
O’Connell goes on to explain four different methods of “dialogue Mass,” each getting “more complete,” and ends by stating, “[I]t is not of obligation, nor is any one of the four possible forms imposed--it is for the rector of the church to judge which of these is feasible at any time--but if it is used it must follow one or the other of these forms and other parts of the Mass may not be recited aloud.” So if and when I decide a “dialogue Mass” is going to be used I believe I must first teach you all four forms and be sure you do not mix them. Without going into detail but giving you simple examples of how the four forms differ, it is not allowed for you to respond at a “form 2” Mass (at which you say aloud only the altar boy parts) but also pray aloud the Pater Noster as in the “form 3” Mass. Want to say the Domine non sum dignus? Not in form 1 or 2, you don’t! Can’t recite the Introit and Offertory in Latin? Too bad, but you just lost out on the number four form! Too confusing for my blood. So, at least for now (and still in 2023!), I simply tell you to remain completely silent throughout the entire Mass. Why? Because I said so.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Belated “Welcome Back” to our Choir
Several weeks ago I had every intention of writing an article about our choir, which goes by the name “St. Dunstan Schola.” I got waylaid by several things that popped up that needed my immediate attention, so I put it off. I believe that the first issue that came up was the letter the Bishop received from Rome giving us two years to continue celebrating the TLM at Epiphany and at the other two parishes in the diocese which have that form of the Mass. I had to break up Bishop Parkes’ letter to us into two separate weekly bulletins in order to get it all in. The following week I was whining about being sick so we ran an old bulletin article about hurricanes in this spot. Of course, Hurricane Idalia zoomed in past us right after that so I had to write about her and also give a health update. But this weekend—finally—I have the opportunity to write a bit about our incredible schola.
Every week they spend more time than most people could possibly imagine learning new chant pieces, practicing both old and new Mass settings, and preparing for Sunday and special feast day Masses. All of the time spent is, I hope it goes without saying, time spent in prayer, for all that they do is for the glory of God and the sanctification of souls. Whether they are studying the chant notation, practicing in the choir room with everyone else, singing in the car as they drive to work, or even spending their lunch hour or children’s nap time going over particularly difficult pieces, it is all part of their prayer life. It is truly a ministry and one which our schola takes very seriously, as you can hear from the results. If we had a church building with even mediocre acoustics, they would sound even better than what you hear already, and that is saying something since they sound pretty darn good even in our “acoustically challenged” building. They are truly a blessing for all of us who attend (or celebrate) the 10:30 Mass on Sundays.
Every year they take about a month off so that members can either go on vacation, sit with their families at Mass (a true luxury for them!), or simply get a break from the constant preparation they do the rest of the year. While they are not singing we have been blessed to have at least a few choir members do some “simple” chants for the Masses so that we can keep our main Mass as a High Mass instead of a Low Mass (where nothing at all is chanted, neither by the choir nor the priest). But as great as it is that we have those few stalwart members chanting for us, it is still a huge grace to once again hear the whole choir when they return. This year I was caught by surprise when the time came for them to return from their respite. I was lining up with the altar boys before our entrance procession and asked where the “chant men” were, for they had been processing in with us. The boys, of course, all knew that the choir was already back in their stalls and ready to start singing. The pastor really is the last to know anything at the parish! I was so impressed with their singing at that Mass that I was tempted to follow my old seminary training and have everyone clap for them! You all know that that defeats their whole purpose of being in the choir, though, as it turns them from being an important part of the “prayer ministry” of the church into being the “entertainment squad” of the parish. Even at other parishes, I think that more choir members understand that reality than their priests do and they get quite embarrassed when the clapping begins. Even so, I had the urge...
But now that I finally get a chance to write about them, I don’t have the ability to enjoy them. As you know, the first part of my recent illness was an almost complete loss of my voice. In case you missed it, I couldn’t preach even a simple sermon that week, since nobody could hear me even if I shouted into the microphone. I had to chant the High Mass, but the choir knew ahead of time that they were going to have to just guess as to when I was finished with my “lines” as they would not be able to make out most of what I was trying so desperately to chant. Heck, even the altar boys couldn’t hear me and they were just a few feet from me all the way through Mass. But after getting my voice back, my hearing went out. As I write this my ears still have not yet cleared and everything I hear is muffled. Some tones are missing as well so I can’t even recognize people’s voices when they speak to me. Everyone sounds a bit squeaky, like cartoon characters. Even my own voice, which sounds very loud in my head, sounds completely different than normal. So when I hear the choir sing, I hear the strangest voices ringing through the church. It’s not quite as bad as listening to Alvin and the Chipmunks sing, but it’s somewhat toward that spectrum. Maybe by this weekend I’ll be able to hear them properly once again.
Anyway, I am still grateful for Mr. Bergmann and the schola he leads. We are very blessed to have them here. If you agree with me, please say a prayer of thanksgiving for them and ask God to bless them as much as they bless us.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Good Timing!
Last week we ran an old article in this space about what to do to prepare for a hurricane. The timing was perfect. First of all, I have been sick for a while now and wasn’t feeling up to writing an article for the bulletin. It was good to have something worthwhile to put in there without me having to work at it. The information it contained was meant especially to help all of the newer parishioners who may not know about such things as prayers to avert storms or the fact that we will still have Mass under most circumstances. The fact that we had a hurricane come through right after it ran in the bulletin was another piece of good timing. Not that one caused the other, mind you, but good timing nonetheless. Of course, it also showed how many people do not read that part of the bulletin, since the parish phones and other means of communication were lit up with the same question over and over. Will there be Mass? We had more people asking if we would continue to have Mass than actually attend weekday Masses during normal days! Or it seemed like it, at least. It was very similar to our annual routine on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday when everyone calling has a bulletin in their hand in which they look up the church phone number, yet don’t bother to look at the three places in that same bulletin for the Mass schedule. Which reminds me, Ash Wednesday is this coming week. Masses are at 4:00 am, 5:00 am, and 5:45 am, not at Epiphany, but at whatever parish is closest to your house. Just go very early to any of those churches and knock on the rectory door if the church is not yet open. Father will be very happy to cover you with sackcloth and ashes when you wake him up. Just don’t tell him that you read it here! But enough joking. Ash Wednesday really isn’t until the following week.
Hurricane Idalia came through pretty quickly instead of just hanging out in the Gulf and making everyone wonder what her plans might be. On Tuesday, we prayed the prayers from the Mass to Avert Storms. On Thursday, we prayed the prayers of the Mass of Thanksgiving for the storm having missed us. It is a pattern we have seen often enough. It would be nice if we never needed to pray either of those two Masses again but, this being Florida, I think we’ll keep the pages marked well! This time the eye of the storm stayed more than 100 miles away from us and we didn’t have any flooding, fallen trees, or damage to buildings or property. We didn’t even lose electricity. Thanks be to God.
Now for an update on my health. Two weeks ago I had no voice. Last week I had a voice but no hearing. At the time I am typing this out, I still have very little hearing. My ears are so blocked up that I cannot tell how loud or soft I am speaking. I cannot tell if I am chanting anywhere near on tune or not (although I am guessing not) when doing something so easy as leading the simple chants for Exposition and Benediction. I can’t understand most of what people are saying when they speak with me. There are some benefits to this. I haven’t been waken by the train all week. If there were any storms during the night the hurricane went through, I wasn’t bothered by them, let alone waken by them. But I still can’t hear well enough to hear confessions. All week long I have had to leave signs up stating that point. It is disappointing to people, but really, you would have to speak pretty loudly in order to make yourself understood, too loud for privacy. I am just starting to hear some crackling and squealing in my ears indicating that the congestion inside them (or whatever is doing this) is starting to break up. Perhaps by this weekend I will already be back in the confessional box. We shall see. The other symptoms are all slowly going away as well. Thank you for all your prayers. I want to say a special thank you to all of you who did not phone and text or knock on the rectory door but rather kept your prayers and other assistance between just you and God. Have you ever tried to rest and relax and recuperate under doctor’s orders but your loving family members keep calling or stopping by to check on you (all mothers raise your hands now!) and manage to keep even a small nap from being a reality? Now imagine your family is 900 plus strong (Bauers, quit scoffing at such a low number!) and each decides that their visit, their cold remedy, their phone calls, their text messages, and/or their special meals (all good things in themselves) are absolutely necessary for your well-being. The constant barrage of love, rather than being of assistance, actually makes things worse. This is what it can be for priests who are loved too much, too. Thankfully, I had both my mother and sister able to run interference for me to push me through the crowds and get me from the church to the rectory without being stopped. The office staff kept a variety of tactical weapons such as drones, bazookas, and electric cow prods on hand to stop anybody trying to sneak past the trenches and barbed wire during the week. And the sign on the front door to the rectory telling people to Go Away kept most people from attempting to sneak past the other defenses when nobody was looking. Thanks for understanding!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Rest of the Bishop’s Letter
Last week I typed out the first part of Bishop Parkes’ letter regarding the two-year dispensation granted to the three parishes in the diocese where the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated. (Read it on our website if you missed it.) This week I will give you the rest of the letter, which part begins explaining what we are asked to do during those two years. Once again, I have made no edits or corrections to the text with the exception of leaving out our Bishop’s actual signature. It is unbecoming of a priest, after all, to engage in forging his Bishop’s signature!
Specifically, the Holy See presented the motu proprio’s provisions which those granted the dispensation should keep in mind, namely,
You should see the dispensation as a pastorally sensitive response to the spiritual needs of the faithful who are attached to the pre-conciliar liturgy. The favor also allows time for deeper reflection on how to proceed celebrating the antecedent liturgy in manner that is respectfully obedient to the Holy Father’s supreme authority in shepherding the liturgical life of the entire Church. As Diocesan Bishop and the one responsible for moderating the liturgical life of the Diocese of St. Petersburg, I look forward to cooperating with you and your parishioners in finding the way forward with prudence.
With every best wish and a promise of a remembrance in prayer, I remain
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend Gregory Parkes
Bishop Of St. Petersburg
At this point, the letter being ended, I return to my own words. I asked you last week to do two things to show the Bishop that we appreciate the work he does as our Bishop and, specifically, what he has done for our parish. In case you missed it, let me repeat this request by copying (below his address) what I wrote.
Envelopes can be addressed to:
The Most Reverend Gregory Parkes
Bishop of St. Petersburg
PO Box 40200
St. Petersburg, FL 33743-0200.
The salutation on the letters may be either, “Your Excellency” or “Dear Bishop”.
Now I want to ask you for a favor. Bishop Parkes is not completely convinced that we fully support him. He would like to know that we not just grudgingly support him, but fully support him as he does us. I can think of a few things that might help convince him. Number one: Money talks. Loudly sometimes! The Bishop’s Catholic Ministry Appeal is a good place to start. If you have not yet donated to this year’s appeal (we only have 15% participation so far), please do so now. I had told him earlier that it was hard to convince people to give if they were unsure of the parish being kept open. Now we know we will be here for at least two more years. There is now no reason we cannot meet our goal in both years. Number two: Prayers. Now is a great time to send the Bishop a personal letter thanking him for his support and pledging your prayers for him. 900 personal notes (have each child send a separate card too!) sent individually will capture his attention far more than all of the spiritual bouquets we have sent him in the past, which arrive in one single package. Thank you for following through on this!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Good News from Bishop Parkes!
I had a meeting with Bishop Parkes this week. Since you read the title of this article, you already know that he had good news for us. There is a push from Rome to end the Traditional Latin Mass throughout the world and the Bishops have been instructed to see to it that that happens. They were given an opportunity to keep the TLMs going, however, for the spiritual good of their flock, if they could present a good case for doing so. Bishop Parkes made such a request and received a response. Below is the first part of a letter dated August 9, 2023 that he wrote to me regarding the response he received. I have made no edits or corrections to the text.
Dear Father Palka,
Permit me to extend my cordial greeting to you and the faithful of Epiphany of our Lord Parish. With this letter, I can convey the response of the Holy See to my request of March 15, 2023, for a dispensation from certain prescripts of the motu proprio Traditionis Custodes.
You will remember I informed you of my petition to the Dicastery for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments asking the three parishes in our Diocese who celebrate the Mass according to the Roman Missal of 1962 to be allowed to continue doing so. In my request, I presented the spiritual and pastoral reasons the dispensation would foster the harmony and communion of the Diocese and the communities celebrating the antecedent liturgy.
On July 20, 2023, the Dicastery issued its response and granted the requested dispensations for two years. The decree also allowed the Diocese to revisit the pastoral conditions which motivated the March 2023 request after the two years period expires. The Holy See will permit a request to extend the dispensation if the pastoral and spiritual reasons remain and suggest the dispensation’s renewal.
The Dicastery’s response was a gracious and generous. In fact, it is more generous than I expected, given that, as far as I am aware, other dioceses have not received dispensations for more than a year. It is obvious that they were sensitive to the pastoral and spiritual reasons articulated in my request. It is hoped that the faithful of Epiphany Parish will understand the pastoral concern for them that led me to request the dispensation and the generosity of the Holy See’s response. Please encourage parishioners to be grateful that the Dicastery granted this favor on Pope Francis’s behalf.
The Dicastery did propose some issues of pastoral leadership that should guide you and your community in planning for the future. These issues also advise you regarding the likely criteria the Holy See will use in evaluating whether to renew the dispensation after two years. I expect, as Pastor, you will pay close attention to these issues as you inform parishioners of the decision and proceed over the next two years.
It is here that I break from his letter. I should be able to publish the rest of the letter next week. Not all Bishops have been as supportive of their own people as Bishop Parkes has been and continues to be. He has a true shepherd’s heart and wants to allow us to continue using the 1962 Missal and liturgical rites as we have been doing ever since his predecessor established this parish as “Tampa’s Center for the Traditional Latin Mass” in 2015.
This is, as you see, better news than he expected. Without a long-term assurance, though, I still cannot justify doing all of the work and fundraising for a much-needed new church building and classrooms. But I am much happier with a two-year agreement than a negative decree closing us down! Now I want to ask you for a favor. Bishop Parkes is not completely convinced that we fully support him. He would like to know that we not just grudgingly support him, but fully support him as he does us. I can think of a few things that might help convince him. Number one: Money talks. Loudly sometimes! The Bishop’s Catholic Ministry Appeal is a good place to start. If you have not yet donated to this year’s appeal (we only have 15% participation so far), please do so now. I had told him earlier that it was hard to convince people to give if they were unsure of the parish being kept open. Now we know we will be here for at least two more years. There is now no reason we cannot meet our goal in both years. Number two: Prayers. Now is a great time to send the Bishop a personal letter thanking him for his support and pledging your prayers for him. 900 personal notes (have each child send a separate card too!) sent individually will capture his attention far more than all of the spiritual bouquets we have sent him in the past, which arrive in one single package. Thank you for following through on this!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Creation With Evolution?
I recently came across this article about two Catholic arguments regarding how man and other living creatures on Earth were created. I believe it is worth passing on to you. Read this shortened version of it closely if you dare. Credit to William Briggs, https://www.wmbriggs.com/post/47573/
There are two basic positions, which are held by many, but which here I name by their well known champions.
Fr. Chad Ripperger:
…every essence is immediately created by God and could not be caused by any created substance [like a species]. The essential reason for this is that to create a substance requires the ability to bridge the gap between nothing and something. The gap between nothing and something that is being actualized requires an infinite power since the ontological distance between nothing and something is infinite….
Some theistic evolutionists hold that evolution is just a natural process used by God to bring about the various forms of life up to and including the bodies of the first human beings. Other theistic evolutionists hold that evolution is a case of constant miracles being used to bring about the various forms of life culminating in man.
As to those who hold it is a natural process, they introduce God into the issue to provide what might be lacking in the order of nature, such as the order that one finds in the universe, which may not be accounted for by purely natural causes and this introduces the above philosophical difficulty where only God can create a substance as well as a whole host of other difficulties…
If God is used to supply on the side [via evolution] of the principle of sufficient reason, it ends up violating the principle of economy because God must intervene to supply the sufficient reason at each step. This indicates that it is not strictly a natural process but requires the introduction of God into each step to be able to achieve the next higher species in the evolutionary process. This violates the principle of economy because what is ultimately being stated is that nature does not suffice in order to produce each individual species on its own. This is a true enough principle but theistic evolution requires God to be involved in each individual step since the laws of nature do not suffice.
At each step, therefore, God must suspend the laws of nature and add what is lacking in the order of nature. The definition of a miracle is: “something occurring aside the whole created nature”. Theistic evolution, whether it states that it is a natural process, which is really just a covert way of introducing constant miracles, or asserts outright that miracles are constantly necessary for the process, violates the principle of economy.
It violates the principle of economy because it posits a number of causes, in this case God intervening as a cause on repeated occasions, without a sufficient reason. In this sense, God creating directly all of the individual species including man in a short period of time without a large number of secondary causes more perfectly fulfills the principle of economy than any theory of evolution, theistic evolution included.
Mike Flynn & Kenneth Kemp
The Flynn-Kemp proposal is this. Suppose evolutionary processes gave rise to a population of several thousand creatures of this non-rational but genetically and physiologically “human” sort. Suppose further that God infused rational souls into two of these creatures, thereby giving them our distinctive intellectual and volitional powers and making them truly human. Call this pair “Adam” and “Eve.” Adam and Eve have descendents, and God infuses into each of them rational souls of their own, so that they too are human in the strict metaphysical sense. Suppose that some of these descendents interbreed with creatures of the non-rational but genetically and physiologically “human” sort. The offspring that result would also have rational souls since they have Adam and Eve as ancestors (even if they also have non-rational creatures as ancestors). This interbreeding carries on for some time, but eventually the population of non-rational but genetically and physiologically “human” creatures dies out [or is snuffed out], leaving only those creatures who are human in the strict metaphysical sense.
On this scenario, the modern human population has the genes it does because it is descended from this group of several thousand individuals, initially only two of whom had rational or human souls. But only those later individuals who had this pair among their ancestors (even if they also had as ancestors members of the original group which did not have human souls) have descendents living today. In that sense, every modern human is both descended from an original population of several thousand and from an original pair. There is no contradiction, because the claim that modern humans are descended from an original pair does not entail that they received all their genes from that pair alone.
So, which of these, if either, makes sense to you? Can their differences be reconciled? Briggs thinks so. Check out his article if you wish to go a little deeper.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Our Most Beloved Saints are in Hell?
For the last two weeks, I have been grousing about the news coming from both the secular world and the Church. Even though I have put up a “news force field” around myself, some of it still manages to slip through. Case in point: The French Bishop Pascal Roland has notified everyone visiting the shrine at Ars (the city where St. John Marie Vianney, patron Saint of priests, was the pastor) that priests may celebrate Mass in any language as long as they are celebrating the Novus Ordo Mass. The Traditional Latin Mass, though, may only be celebrated in a crypt (out of sight of all the Catholics who would be scandalized by such a sight!) without any people in attendance. And please, leave a donation for the use of the facilities.
Do you know which form of the Mass St. John Vianney celebrated? I’ll give you a hint. He died in 1859. Of the two forms of the Mass (NOM and TLM), only the TLM had been celebrated for 1400 years or more before his birth. Of the two forms, the TLM was still the only one being celebrated 110 years after his death. Therefore, the TLM produced all of the Saints and converts throughout the world during all of those centuries. But now, at the very place where the famous Curé of Ars celebrated the TLM, only a solitary, hidden priest may celebrate it and no laity may attend. Newsflash: TLMers are treated like lepers.
Another bit of Church news also made it through my barrier. This gem is from this side of the ocean and shows that lepers are sometimes treated much better than those who want the TLM. A recording of a homily publicly delivered just last weekend is making the rounds. The preacher is a retired bishop who joked that he is nimis stultum to understand Latin even though he studied it for six years. Self-deprecating humor is good for a laugh from the congregation, but he was deprecating the Latin Mass rather than himself. He didn’t decry not knowing Vietnamese, Spanish, Polish, Lithuanian, Portuguese, or any other of the many languages in which the Novus Ordo Mass is celebrated within the diocese he is residing in after having headed it up for more than two decades. No, he was clearly maligning the Traditional Latin form of Mass rather than simply the language of the Mass. He explained the parable of the wheat and the weeds by inserting the Latin Mass and those who want it into the story. Here is a transcribed tiny fraction of what he said, and it is not being taken out of context. “There are people making seeds that don’t like the fact that the Mass we celebrate is no longer in Latin. Latin! Which I grew up with in my childhood, didn’t understand then, don’t understand now after six years of studying Latin. (laughter) But then Christ’s presence comes to the Altar here in plain sight instead of hidden to all by the priest who has his back to us. These are weeds. These are bad weeds that are being planted. In our midst. There are people, movements which are planting seeds in the Body of Christ, which is the Church.” In that parable, the one responsible for the bad weeds in the Master’s (God’s) field of good wheat was his enemy (Satan). When the harvest time comes, the weeds will be collected and burned. The bad weeds are the heretics, unrepentant evil-doers, and antichrists, used by the devil to infiltrate God’s Church, pervert His teachings, and corrupt His children with false morals and worship. These bad weeds will be sent to hell on Judgment Day. This bishop equated those who celebrate, attend, or even simply desire the TLM with Satan and his demons. He directly implied that they are evil and will burn in hell for all of eternity. He later explained that the parable is one of mercy and a reminder that we “should refrain from judging.” You can’t make this stuff up! He did wrap up by reminding all of the TLMers listening to him, “While things will be sorted out someday, there’s still time. If we are among those who are tempted to plant those bad seeds, there’s still time for us to change.” Yes, dump the TLM if you wish to get to Heaven.
I wish that St. John Vianney, who struggled with Latin himself, had had this good bishop warn him how much spiritual damage he was doing to the people and to his own soul by giving them the TLM. He may have refrained from sowing those demonic seeds. According to the “logic” of this sermon, St. John Vianney went to hell and took the whole town of Ars with him. I wonder how many priests since then have turned to that vile man, their patron Saint, and prayed to him, mistakenly thinking that he is in Heaven since the Church proclaimed him a Saint, when, obviously, “Saint” must really mean “damned TLM priest.” Of course, all of the other “Saints” who celebrated or attended the Traditional Latin Mass from the earliest days of its celebration must be in hell as well, so let that be a lesson to you!
Rejoice in this good news! Two bishops, one in France and one in the USA, are spiritually joined together, destroying the TLM in order to save the souls of those who want it. The evil that St. John Vianney spread may soon be conquered! The world needs more such merciful bishops who will denigrate the TLM and berate its adherents, for, after all, every single faithful Catholic who died before Advent of 1969 is now and for always, like the bad weeds they were, evidently burning in hell. God, save us from Sainthood!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: How Do You Do It?
Last week I wrote about some of the news I was hearing and reading. Both the secular news and that coming from the Church are disheartening. I said that I wasn’t planning on reading any more news while I was away and I meant it. Yet I still got an earful simply by having the radio on while driving, for even Relevant Radio has news breaks. To those of you who spend hours every day listening to or watching the news, I ask this very serious question: How do you do it? Doesn’t it steal your joy? Doesn’t it lead to hopelessness? Powerlessness? Constant anger and resentment? Do yourself a favor and turn it off and tune it out to the best of your ability. You don’t need to be a prophet to know at least the near future: In the Church, the Syndod on Synodality will be a fiasco, as the unfaithful participants are the promoted messengers. The new kissing cardinal-to-be will endorse heresy and condemn orthodoxy. Bishop Strickland’s persecution for “not being nice” will keep other bishops from speaking the truth even as evil becomes more blatant. China will continue to persecute actual Catholics while their own communist “catholics” will be coddled by Rome. Fr. Rupnik will keep his faculties and his $$$ but will have to be more discreet in his “undercover” work since the Jesuits will not be able to cover for him as meticulously as before. And, as a segue into the current secular issues, the mainstream media and politicians will continue to hate the Catholic Church and will do all they can to promote immoral clergy while simultaneously mocking and berating the clergy and laity who strive to uphold morality.
Also in the secular world, you already know that the media will do all they can to denounce Trump and anyone associated with him, not for his real moral shortcomings (for they actually like his immorality) but for all sorts of imaginary and delusive offenses. Hunter Biden will be protected until his father is no longer useful as a tool against Trump. Both political parties will act like they contain the fullness of morality and will only pretend that there is a war going on between them—one of good vs evil—while all members of both sides suck deeply on the breast of anyone who will enrich them, regardless of the cost to the country. The right will be censored by the left (even Country songs are no longer safe!) while the left decries the censorship of the right. The news will continue to lie to protect its largest advertisers. Social media will continue to shadowban and outright cancel anyone the government tells them to. Fake women (males, but certainly not real men) will continue to steal athletic awards and even beauty pageants from females while feminists cheer on their degrading actions. And, bringing this section to a close by combining both Church and secular news once again, so-called “Catholic” schools, colleges, and universities will lead the way in the moral degradation of your children and grandchildren as they try to out-secularize the secular schools, colleges, and universities.
Ok. Now you don’t need to watch the news for a few more months. Or years. Except for the weather. It is summer in Florida. It will be hot and humid with a good chance of thundershowers. Now you don’t need anything more.
By the time you read this, I will be back to my normal schedule. I won’t be driving as much as I did last week so I won’t be listening to so much bad news. I really do recommend that you take a break from the news as well. It was anything but uplifting or even helpful. I listened because there are only so many rosaries I can actually pray (instead of just going through the motions) a day. I liked listening to some of the Relevant Radio shows when I could tune in that program. I only found one station playing classical music but it went out of range pretty quickly. I listened to country and classic rock and I even heard the country song that was subsequently banned by Country Music Television (a channel I have never heard of before) because the artist, Jason Aldean (a man I had never heard of before), turned out to be a Trump supporter, so his song (Try that in a small town) about how, in a small town, you won’t get away with the horrific and immoral but now-normal things that make up big city life, had to be labeled as racist, white supremist, homophobic, sexist, and orange. Or something like that. I took it as simply a song about how people living in small towns stick up for one another and for (for the most part, anyway) old-fashioned morality. I would guess that a large number of country music artists and listeners support Trump and support small-town life. Is CMT pulling a Bud Light? I hope Jason becomes a millionaire because of the hatred shown by the big city leftists (a pretty good guess on my part as to who would do this) who canceled him.
On my time off I drove around Florida visiting people and places I rarely get to see. From Crystal River to Miami, from St. Petersburg to Palatka, I drove and listened and returned home. Here’s this priest’s take on this one particular aspect of my travels: listening to hours of confessions is preferable to listening to hours of the news! The sins I hear in the confessional are from repentant sinners who crave and then receive God’s mercy. Sins heard on the news are generally from braggarts and hooligans who willfully embrace and promote their sins, distancing themselves from God. What a difference!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Don’t Read This Article!
This week I have had the opportunity to sit back and relax a little. I have spent some of that time perusing the news, both Catholic and secular. I am not sure if it was a good idea, though! Here are some of the “highlights” of world events.
Fr. James Martin, LGBTSJ, has been again given special honors by being named as one of the official Synod of All Synods US officials. He is the only non-bishop chosen by Francis to represent the US. But rest assured, the news organizations nearly unanimously proclaim, the Synod will not and can not produce any moral teachings that are not Catholic. After all, that Fr. Martin’s entire identity is wrapped up in convoluting Church moral teachings of the sexual nature doesn’t mean that he will vote in favor of mortal sin. Likewise, Francis’ hand-picked Cardinal McElroy may not vote for women’s ordination, although he has publicly stated that he wants the Synod to do so. The same logic will also have us believe that Cardinal Cupich, another of Francis’ personally chosen members of the US delegation, will now throw his support behind Eucharistic Processions and Traditional Latin Masses. The rest of the group chosen (even though the US Bishops elected their own delegates without including these men) can also be counted on to fully uphold Catholic Church teachings to the same degree. Uh-huh. But enough of this. There is much more news to consider.
Not that this paragraph has anything to do with the above paragraph, but Disney+ (the “+” must be the one from LGBTQI+) has a new show in the works, called “Pauline.” In this family-friendly, children-oriented series, Pauline, a teenage girl, has relations with Satan and is pregnant with his child. This is portrayed as a “coming of age” movie. Pauline will supposedly have all sorts of supernatural powers given to her due to this physical union with the devil, which is certain to entice impressionable young girls into searching out a similar relationship with demons as well. Sounds like good, clean entertainment for the whole family to enjoy, doesn’t it?
I will sandwich that bit of secular news between Church news by here pointing out that Monsignor Victor Manuel Fernández, archbishop of La Plata, Argentina, was recently appointed to head the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith. This is the Vatican position formerly held by Benedict XVI under John Paul II. Until now, the purpose of this dicastery/congregation was to uphold Church teaching. Now the new head, who will be made a Cardinal next month, has been told that rooting out heresy is not to be his function in this new and improved organization. He is rather to find ways to join heresy to doctrine to bring us to a fuller understanding of morality. Gosh, that sounds just dandy, doesn’t it? This appointment is being criticized for two reasons which have absolutely nothing to do with each other. First, when this bishop was still just a priest, he wrote a book titled, “Heal Me With Your Mouth. The Art of Kissing (1995).” He now claims that people are just being mean by pointing out that it is totally inappropriate for a priest to write such a book. Even doing the research would be inappropriate, as he writes about it, “I went to bars, colleges, businesses, in order to ask (over 1000) young people about what they knew to say about kissing, I collected varied opinions about what a kiss means for them, about the different ways of kissing.” Really? Would you want your son or daughter interviewed by a priest about such matters? Would you send your son to the seminary of which he is the rector? The second major criticism is that he supported an abuser priest and disparaged his victims, the first of his multiple alleged coverups as a bishop. He only now has reluctantly admitted that he “made mistakes” in this one case, which “ended” with the suicide of the accused priest. Anyway, remember this man’s position when the Synod proclaims that much more than kissing is now to be embraced as a healing remedy for all that ails us.
Back on the secular side again there was cocaine found in the “secure” area of the White House. Just because all visitors have to be signed in and escorted everywhere they go inside that residence, and just because there are security cameras in every room and hallway and secret service agents throughout the entire place doesn’t mean that they can figure out whose cocaine it is. And the Justice Department just filed charges against the whistleblower “Gal” threatening over 100 years in prison for the same charges which were just dropped against the most likely suspect in the cocaine story. Meanwhile, Leslie Van Houten, who took part in the Charles Manson murders, was just released from prison. A California court (of course) made the decision that she is now “safe.” In California holding down a woman while others repeatedly stab her and then personally stabbing her another 14-16 times, cleaning up the blood, changing clothes, and calmly drinking the victim's chocolate milk shows the murderer to be the real victim (of white supremacy, racism, and homophobia, assuredly). Where are all of the people crying out for knife control? On a similar topic, we soon won’t need gun control because the US is out of ammo. At least that is the official reason given for sending cluster bombs to Ukraine. And this immoral ammunition became moral because they are old, so many of them won’t work. So says our old, non-working President.
But let me end on a good note. Screen for screen, “Sound of Freedom” (the movie Disney owned but refused to release, which has now been released independently) topped WokeDisney’s emasculated Indian Jones at the box office!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Welcome Back, Fr. Vincent!
I assume that at least most of you know Fr. Vincent. He used to help out at Epiphany on a regular basis, along with all of the other work he did throughout the diocese and at Jesuit High School. He is a great teacher, homilist, and speaker and a good, holy, personable priest, and was truly missed when he was transferred out of the country. But last year he returned, not quite to our country, but to Miami, which, in geographical terms, at least, is fairly close to Florida. At that time he offered to come and spend a month here in order to give me a break while he took over the Masses. Of course, I jumped at the chance for a respite. But before he came, we had plumbing problems and sewage problems stemming from the construction workers across the street doing something improperly, and everyone was worried that he was going to be coming into a mess. Fortunately, it was all cleared up before he arrived. By strange coincidence, though, we recently had another water outage due to the construction across the street, and, just last week, we had water pouring in through the ceiling downstairs as the air conditioner upstairs decided to drain onto the floor rather than to the outside. We caught several gallons of water before we were able to fix the problem. As you might have surmised by now, Fr. Vincent is coming back for a visit, a bit of work, and a personal retreat, and it looks like he will escape the worst of the plumbing issues once again. He should be here the Monday after this article appears in the bulletin.
As mentioned, Fr. Vincent said that while he is here he will be making a personal retreat. There is something quite spiritually uplifting about starting out each day with two Masses, Adoration, and Confessions! Due to his desire to spend time in solitary prayer, he may not be able to go on many social visits, but, he still may be in need of some good home cooking. After all, we do not have a cook at the rectory to take care of his nutritional needs. So if you are willing and able to bring him some of your family’s favorite meals, don’t hesitate to offer him some Southern hospitality, even though it means serving it up in Tupperware rather than on fine China!
Once Father Vincent appears on the scene, I will disappear for about 10 days. There are no baptisms or weddings scheduled during the time I will be gone but there are a few other things that I usually tend to that will just have to find ways of continuing without me. I have no doubt that you will all manage to survive my absence. Of course, there are always one or two smart alecks around who may plan on not surviving, just to prove me wrong in that assertation. To them, I say: I forbid it! No dying allowed while the pastor isn’t here!
The last time I went away, everyone was pestering my mom about where I was. I had only told her what I told everybody else, namely, that “I will be in a private hermitage with a bed, a bath, and a chapel. No emails, no phone calls, no meetings!” This year, to spare her the endless questions that she was helpless to answer (even though you were convinced that she was holding back on you!) I will tell you exactly where I am going. I will give you the name, address, and even the keys to the place at which I will be staying. I will also have a complimentary chauffeur and limo on call for your convenience, plus free train, bus, and ship tickets for anyone who wishes to come and join me. Oh, and I put approximately $1903.47 cash in each of those 850 information packets so that nobody will feel that they are unable to join me on account of a lack of spending money. You should be able to find me quite easily without having to bother my mother at all. The box containing all of this is quite large and labeled in huge, eye-catching fluorescent print: “FREE VACATION PACKAGES AND CASH. TAKE WHAT YOU NEED!” If, for some strange reason, you cannot find the box where I left it (outside of the doors to the social hall) feel free to check the dumpster to see if somebody accidentally threw it away. I can’t think of any other reason it might be missing.
Fr. Dorvil will also be gone while I am away. He has an assignment from his Religious Order wherein he needs to check up on other De Montfort priests in the US to make sure they are doing well, are in good health, have their needs taken care of, and any other thing that might be easily overlooked when they are by themselves in a foreign country. In July he will be traveling to tend to those duties. Please pray for him and the priests he assists as he performs this charitable visitation.
I will end this article with a small but necessary reminder. It is very important that if your group is scheduled to meet at Epiphany in the afternoon or evening, especially during the time I am away, should you need to cancel your meeting you let the office staff know that you won’t be here, for that means that you won’t be locking up the facilities. The last group scheduled is tasked with locking up, but every once in a while a group doesn’t meet but fails to have the calendar updated. The church will remain open all night unless I happen to check, which I definitely won’t do when I am not here!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: I’m Old!
Get off the grass! Close the door, do you want to invite in every mosquito? Were you born in a barn? Get a haircut; you look like a girl! These are all stereotypical “old man” sayings. Yet I have been noticing more and more that I think just like I remember old people thinking when I was young. I remember old people complaining about the music, hairstyles, and clothing of the young people. I cannot stand most of what passes for music these days, nor can I, just like mom and dad (old people) when I was younger, name or identify a single top musician or vocalist today. I remember complaints by old people about boys' hair being too long. I have similar thoughts today when I see a man-bun (which is simply a ponytail the man is afraid to be seen sporting) or a half-shaved buzz cut on a woman. I think (usually to myself only) that this has been the groundwork for transgenderism. Men wearing earrings, for instance, though widely accepted, is not manly to me at all. Men’s tight slacks and jeans, in this old man’s opinion, make them look absolutely silly, as if they are wearing their wife’s or younger sister’s pants. Don’t get me started on women covered with tattoos, either. It’s no wonder nobody can tell Matt Walsh what the definition of a woman is! No, I know that I am not young, for only an old guy looks at the “stupidity” of the younger generation with the mixture of scorn and pity as I do with ever-increasing regularity.
This realization came to mind this week when I re-told a story about a “van life” article that had me baffled at first, followed by the realization that I absolutely do not get this one particular thing about the younger generations. The “thing” I will sooner or later get to is something that immediately, to an old geezer like me, makes me think of such politically incorrect labels for the person in question that I cannot write them without facing immediate and drastic repercussions. (For those even older folks, “van life” is either like being homeless and living out of your vehicle, be it a car, van, or truck, or like camping (anywhere except for in a campground) full time in that same vehicle. People do all sorts of things to make this life as comfortable as possible, from building (or having someone else build) cabinets, beds, shelving, and, sometimes, bathrooms in the vehicle, to adding solar panels to run electricity for appliances, fans, computers, and other things needed for life on the road. It is much more popular in places where the temperatures are relatively cool in the summer and warm in the winter.) The article caught my eye because, in the opening paragraph, the author wrote, “I have been writing about van life for six years and I have never been in a van, truck, or camper in my entire life. So I thought it was time to see what it was like.” My current old man thinking went like this: “You can’t possibly be good at your job if you have never experienced any part of what you write about. How could anybody ever hire such an ignoramus? How much ‘expert information’ do you have to make up because you don’t know what the reality of such life is? How much do you leave out because you don’t know that it is important for those who actually live in a vehicle?” I can only imagine that today’s young men if reading the same lines, would think differently: “Cool. You get paid to bloviate upon a topic of which you know nothing! I want that kind of a job.”
But it only got worse. The author got one of the van conversion companies he regularly writes about to loan him a built-out van for a week. Except that he then admitted that “I am afraid to drive. So I called one of my friends and talked her into coming with me on this adventure so that she could drive.” I had to go back to make sure that this was a man writing the article. Certainly, no man would write such a wimpy confession in a public forum—in fact, in the very publication that pays his salary—and not fear absolute ridicule and demands that he be fired immediately for being such a **** (this is where I cannot write any of the many descriptive words I would like to use). Doubtless, John Wayne was not his childhood role model. Heck, Pee-wee Herman was probably more masculine than whoever taught him how to be a man. I guarantee you that this guy still wears a face diaper while riding his bike between his permanent digs in his mother’s basement and the local comic book shop for a big night out on the town. I am not sure if spends his life playing video games, since the ones I hear of all feature violence and guns and I just cannot believe he would be able to handle anything like that. Lest you think I am being too harsh on him, later he admitted—without a trace of awareness of how **** (more must go unwritten) he was making himself out to be—that when they stopped for gas his female friend had to pump it because he didn’t know how!
In my day (an “old man” statement if there ever was one) the men (who got their license as soon as they turned 15, not 25!) drove and pumped gas. That is quickly changing. But just wait, one day these **** guys will find themselves old, too, and will look askance at the young men riding on the back of Harleys while their biker babes take them to Daytona or Sturgis!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Even More Excitement!
Last week I wrote about the excitement we had here at the parish with the water going out during our chant camp and with a visiting priest staying at the rectory. This week I have even more stories that are at least somehow connected to that week’s activities. As I mentioned, the visiting priest, Fr. Nick Ward, was in town to celebrate a family wedding. One of his sisters, Maggie, was marrying one of my nephews, Ryan. I am trying to figure out just how to describe the new family relationships this brings about. Maggie must now be my niece-in-law. Since Father Ward is her brother, he, too, is related to me, but how do I describe this family link? Calling him “the brother of my niece-in-law” is too much of a mouthful. Plus, people who saw him wearing a cassock might mistake that for that habit and think I called him a Religious brother. So I might have to clarify that he is her biological brother and also a priest by calling him “brother Father of my niece-in-law.” But then they may think that he is a Religious brother who was given the name “Father” when he took his vows. So perhaps turning that phrase around a bit and calling him “Father brother of my niece-in-law” would be better. But that sounds like “Brother” is Father’s last name. So at this point let me try something much more simple. A priest is called “Father” and this priest is now an in-law to me. So I will simply call him my Father-in-law! No, no, no, that would certainly confuse people.
But the confusion in describing Father’s relation to me is only the beginning. There is also the confusing matter of Father’s father. Let me explain. The man who walked Maggie down the aisle at her wedding was dressed in black and wore a Roman collar. You see, her father is a Catholic deacon. (I think there were a lot of people on this side of the family who were a little bit puzzled by that sight!) Deacon Paul Ward is also now related to me as an in-law. Once again, something like, “the deacon father of my niece-in-law” seems too complicated and also might be misunderstood as if stating that the deacon’s last name is “Father.” Hmmm. Since the father of a niece is an uncle, through Maggie the deacon becomes my uncle-in-law. The father of a father is a grandfather so through Father the deacon becomes my grandfather-in-law. Combining those two relationships, since Maggie and Father are siblings (how strange that her brother is also her Father!), perhaps I can just describe him as my deacon-uncle-grandfather-in-law, which should make everything perfectly clear!
Back to storytelling now and I’ll worry about relationships another time. After the rehearsal dinner, from across the parking lot, I could see that my car’s brake lights were on. How odd. Was somebody in the car stepping on the brake pedal? No. The lights were just on. I was sure that they hadn’t been on when we left the rehearsal and headed out to the restaurant, since I approached the car from the rear that time, too, and would have noticed, just as I did this time. The brake pedal wasn’t stuck. The activation switch under the pedal wasn’t frozen up. I couldn’t see any blown fuses. I didn’t want to drive with my brake lights constantly lit since any driver following me would never know when I was actually braking. But Fr. Dorvil, who had come with me, and I had to get home. So I tried taking the back roads to avoid causing an accident. And I found out how many roads are closed due to construction. Even Hanna was closed on the other side of the Interstate. Neither Google Maps nor Waze showed any road closures in the area, yet one after another intersection was cordoned off. Fortunately, we eventually made it home safe and sound but then had to disconnect the battery so that it wouldn’t be drained by the morning.
The next morning, after my usual schedule of Mass, confessions, and adult Catechism class, I only had a short time to try fixing it before needing to get to the wedding at the Jesuit High School chapel. I used every tool I could find to twist, bang, pry, and smash as many parts as I could, hoping something would make the brake lights work properly again. Nothing worked, so I needed a ride. Fr. Ward had to get to the wedding very early, so he was gone already. I looked for Fr. Dorvil, hoping to catch a ride, but I couldn’t find him anywhere. Fortunately, Anders was grabbing some needed chant sheets from the office so I asked him to pick me up at the rectory when he headed out. Before he got there, one of our parishioners came to check out the car, diagnosed the problem as probably a bad break switch (the car is over 20 years old, so I suppose parts may start wearing out about now), and offered to disconnect it, go to the auto parts store, and replace it with a new one while I was at the Nuptial Mass. Yes, there are some wonderful people around here! Anders got me to the wedding early enough to still help get things set up. Poor Fr. Dorvil, who was around the whole time even though I couldn’t find him, waited patiently for me so that we could drive together since he knew that the car wasn’t fixed. But he managed to get to the wedding on time, too. And when I got back home, the brake lights were fixed, the battery was attached, and all was well with the world.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Excitement for the Week
This last week was filled with all sorts of excitement. The first and most important thing was our Chant Camp. We have been holding this absolutely impossible week for a number of years now and proving that the impossible is not only possible, but so well received that not only do the youth come back year after year, but the adults (and not just parents) constantly want to join in on the fun. Why do I say it is impossible? Because that is what I hear all the time. “Chant? Latin? Tradition? No way! If we want to reach the youth we must give them guitars and generic Christian ‘praise and worship’ music from the ‘70s, ‘80s, and ‘90s. That’s the real classical music, the true tradition of the Church. Nobody under 87 will ever show up for a summer chant camp.” Don’t think I am exaggerating. Go to any diocese-wide or even parish-based youth group, holy hour, vocation gathering, or large Mass (in any diocese—ours is not unique) and you will not have silence, organ music, or Latin a cappella chant. You will have some old codger (like me but with a ponytail) strumming a guitar singing, softly and sweetly, Father, I adore You and encouraging everybody to close their eyes, raise their arms, and sway to the music, followed by Open Our Eyes, Lord and maybe Glorify Thy Name because they claim that that is what all children, teenagers, and adults really like. If there is a whole band, somebody will undoubtedly bring out her rainstick for a rousing edition, complete with full-body motions of wriggling fingers raised high and then brought down low, of Rain Down. There will be absolutely no time for silence, never a thought of using organ music, and certainly no Latin. There is no doubt in anybody’s mind that what Epiphany offered once again at chant camp would make children flee to the nearest protestant Vacation Bible School for something “relevant.” But, as before, we proved the naysayers wrong. It was a smashing success. Many thanks to all those who worked so hard to teach our obviously not-normal (thanks be to God!) young parishioners the beauty of Traditional Chant.
I also had a nephew’s wedding on the calendar. His new wife (I assume the marriage took place on Saturday!) has a brother who is a priest in the Diocese of Steubenville, Ohio. He stayed at the rectory for the week and was able to spend time with his family before witnessing his sister’s vows of Holy Matrimony. How he managed to get time off to come here is beyond me. Look him up on the Steubenville priest page and you will see, “Father Nicholas S. Ward. Parochial Vicar - St. Ann, Chesapeake; St. Joseph, Ironton; St. Lawrence O'Toole, Ironton; and
St. Mary, Pine Grove; Assistant Director of Vocations.” Yikes! I would never even remember how to get to that many parishes, let alone work at so many. Plus vocation director? Nope. It’s a good thing he is young, energetic, and holy!
Tying those two things (chant and a visiting priest) together was an expected demonic intrusion, as the dark ones try to bring chaos wherever Faith is being strengthened. I was at the VA with my dad on Tuesday afternoon, immersed in incompetence that only a Federal agency can muster, when I got a text message: “No water in neighborhood for 4-6 hrs...pipe break across the street.” Yep. We had a chant camp with what seemed like a hundred children plus adults and no water for either drinking or flushing. Our great hospitality for the visiting priest no longer included showers or restroom facilities. At least this time it wasn’t the AC that went out! When I finally got home that evening there were papers taped to every door and sink of the rectory stating, “Precautionary Boil Water Notice, No Water. Your service was interrupted 6-6-23 from approximately 12:30 pm until approximately 7:00 pm. Blah, blah, blah... two consecutive days of satisfactory bacteriological water samples...” Fortunately, the water was already restored by the time I read it. I went around opening up the outside spigots to let the nasty, rusty water gush until clear. Then inside to do the same with the sinks, showers, and toilets. Then over to the school and church, following the same procedure. After everything was “fixed” I headed back to the rectory to find a can of food of some sort for dinner. But before I could even do that I got a message from the social hall that the handicapped bathroom toilet was making such terrible noises and was spluttering so violently that the water valve had to be turned off. And the kitchen faucets were not flowing. Back over to the church I went. There was, once again, nasty, rusty, or grey water at every faucet and toilet. I went back outside to open a hose nozzle and it wouldn’t even squirt. Opening up the outlet without the hose allowed me to hear sounds of air movement in the pipe, followed by an explosion of misty spray, alternating mist and air and spluttering nasty (the word “nasty” does not even begin to describe it), rusty water with full force for a split second, then pause, splutter, gush, pause, repeat. More than five minutes went by before the water came out full force without air. But it was still nasty. Ten minutes later it was still nasty. I opened up another spigot with the same result. Then inside to open every faucet. Nasty, nasty, nasty. Sploosh, woosh, splash, gurgle. Then the toilets. Yech! But after 20 or so minutes, water was running clear everywhere. By the time you read this, it should even be drinkable!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Who Likes Donuts?
Who likes donuts? What kind of a crazy question is that? Who doesn’t like donuts? Heck, even people who don’t eat them generally like them but simply refrain for purposes other than a lack of enjoyment in eating them. The best donuts, of course, are Sunday morning donuts. There is nothing like a fresh donut after Mass. There is just something special about participating in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, where Jesus offers Himself to the Father in atonement for our sins, that naturally gets us thinking about eternal life and all of the joys of being in the Beatific Vision, which naturally makes the indulgence of consuming fried dough with icing on it seem like, maybe, a little peek into the joys of Heaven itself. Ok, maybe I exaggerated just a little bit there. But there is no denying that staying after Mass for coffee and donuts leads to stronger relationships among old and newfound friends. The young children eat and drink quickly so that they can (finally!) run around, yelling and playing; the young adults stand to eat their donuts and make plans for the week; and the “old” geezers—everyone over 30 and oh, so boring to the youngsters—enjoy just sitting and talking while leisurely consuming the one breakfast sweet that they will allow themselves all week. If you are following me so far, you can see just how important donuts are to parish life. And right about now it is dawning on you that you heard an announcement a couple of weeks back that the two families who have been “religiously” ordering and picking up the donuts for the past few years are ready to pass the torch to the next families who are willing to take on this grave responsibility. NO, WAIT! DON’T STOP READING YET!
The people who attend the 10:30 Mass generally have rotating groups that help make fresh coffee, set out drinks, serve the donuts, and clean up when things start winding down. As far as they know, the donuts milk, juice, cream, and other foods just appear in the kitchen, brought by angels when nobody is looking. Because multiple groups take on these tasks on a rotating basis (the groups that work the donut counter get to keep any donations over and above the cost of the food, and the parish picks up the tab if the donation jar is, ahem, light), none of the people helping out become overwhelmed with the burdens associated with occasionally working while everyone else socializes. But the people helping at the 7:30 are the ones charged with bringing in dozens upon dozens of donuts, enough for both Masses, plus stocking the refrigerator and pantry with the rest of the needed items, then getting everything set up, all before Mass begins! Then, after Mass, while everyone else is enjoying themselves as described above, the same people who brought everything in and set it all up, are the ones dishing it out and cleaning up. They also coordinate who is bringing in the extra homemade goodies (shhh, don’t tell this part to the 10:30 Mass people!) every couple of weeks when these delectable treats are made available. But there has been no rotating schedule for doing all of that, and they are ready to pass the torch to somebody else. if you remember, when the Traditional Latin Mass first started here in 2015, I was the one picking up the donuts and drinks before Mass started and I got to the point of needing others to take over for me, too. If you help take over, you will need others to pick up where you leave off at some point as well. It need not be a lifetime commitment!
It would certainly help if many families volunteered to take over so that nobody would have to bear such a heavy burden each and every week. It is really a great “ministry” and should be one that everybody wants to take turns doing. Ask those working the donut hour how they were able to do so much for so long and the answer will be something like, “Just look at the face of that young lad as he chooses his donut. It’s all worth it just for that!” They truly have enjoyed working so hard and the reward of helping others at church is just a foretaste of the reward awaiting them in Heaven. (I am not exaggerating here. This is truly an act of charity worthy of a reward for such a sacrificial and virtuous deed.) You get to know everybody and everybody gets to know you, at least by sight. And it certainly is something that helps strengthen the bonds of solidarity amongst the Faithful. If you attend the 7:30 Sunday Mass and would like to assist in this, please speak with either the Beards or the Owens’ (you know where to find them!) and let them show you what they do. Remember, that you can also, if you chose to make this a part of your parish life, change things up if you have a different vision of how things should/could be done. So if you are an “idea person” and have been thinking, “If only they would do thus and so it would be so much better” now is your chance to see your dreams come to fruition!
If nobody steps up to take over, that will be a sign that it is time to stop serving coffee and donuts at the early Mass and I will ask for volunteers at the 10:30 to pick up their donuts later in the morning. That would not be the end of the world. Even good things come and go. But if you want it to continue, don’t expect the angels to do all of the work!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Meeting With Bishop Parkes
Last Monday I received a phone call from Bishop Parkes’ secretary. She told me that Bishop Parkes wanted to see me as soon as possible. Could I come to his office tomorrow at 2:30? The timing was actually quite good. Because Tuesday was my “day off” (after morning Masses, confessions, and Adoration) I didn’t have any appointments scheduled except for a visit to my dad, who lives only about thirty minutes away from the Chancery offices. So, at the appointed time I showed up for our meeting. I was greeted quite warmly by both Bishop Parkes and his always-amiable Vicar General, Msgr. Bob Morris, and sat down for business. I fully expected that I would be told the fate of Epiphany and the other two parishes where the Traditional Latin Mass is celebrated. Why else would the Bishop request a rushed meeting? Two Roman documents had forced Bishop Parkes to ask permission for such Masses to continue and, up until now, I had heard nothing of a response. Do we all get to continue offering the TLM? Have only one or two of us been given permission? Have any of us been given permission to continue celebrating the Mass but not in the parish church, meaning that we have to rent a tent or barn or find some other place to continue? I was sure I was about to find out. No matter what the outcome, at least we would no longer be held in suspense, for we have been like Isaac, filled with trust that God’s will be done, patiently waiting for either his father Abraham’s knife to plunge deeply into his heart or for the angel to call off the sacrifice at the last second.
Alas, that was not to be the case. The Bishop simply wanted to give me three messages. The first, and the one directly related to the paragraph above, is that he has not yet received an answer to his request that all three parishes continue as usual. He assured me that he fully supports us and that in his letter to Rome, which he sent a couple of months ago, he had laid out good arguments for keeping the TLM going in all three Diocesan locations. He has told me several times now that he supports us (specifically, Epiphany) and that he wants us to prosper. I have passed that message on to you before and I hope you know the sincerity of his words.
The second message was that he is not sure if we—Epiphany—support him in return. The main thing he has to base such support on is the CMA, the Catholic Ministry Appeal. As he reminded me, the CMA has replaced the old APA (Annual Pastoral Appeal), which previously assessed each parish approximately 20 percent of all donations and used the money for running Diocesan programs and paying Diocesan bills such as staff salaries, insurance, electricity, and whatnot. The APA assessment was obligatory and, if not paid through parishioner donations directly, would be collected forcibly by the Diocese taking it directly from our savings account. The CMA, on the other hand, is used for the same purposes but is completely voluntary in nature. I wrote about it last year about this same time as we were in about the same situation. If the Bishop thinks that the pastor is not doing his best to encourage support for the Diocese, the CMA goal will revert back to “compulsory” instead of “voluntary.” If he believes that the best effort is being made, even if the goal is not met, he will accept whatever is willingly given and call it a done deal. Our current CMA goal is approximately $123,000 of which only 12% has been paid by only 6% of our parishioners. He sees this as a lack of support from you, the parishioners, which, in turn, shows a lack of support from me, the pastor. He asked if it would help if he sent one of his staff to explain how the program works (for instance, you can choose where you wish your donation to be used if you wish) and why it is important (the Bishop doesn’t have the ability to “pass the hat” as we do every week). I answered truthfully that while I would welcome that, the man he sends must be willing to answer the question, “Are we being shut down?” He was a bit put off by that answer because it is not him that would shut us down should such a terrible thing happen, but rather the Pope. Bishop Parkes supports allowing Traditional Latin Masses to continue. Pope Francis has been clear that he wants us “backward” TLM people eliminated from parish life. I hope nobody objects to me stating that truth so bluntly and clearly. So here is another reminder that the Diocese needs funds and the people have an opportunity, through the CMA, to supply for her needs in a manner that is much better than the previous method.
The third thing Bishop Parkes wanted to tell me is that I am not present at many Diocesan functions. I certainly cannot argue with that statement. I attend all Diocesan meetings that are mandatory or seem informative, but that number is not large. I had no priest to take over for me during the annual Priest Convocation last fall and I stubbornly refuse to cancel Masses at the parish just so that I can enjoy the company of my fellow priests for the week. I skipped the Chrism Mass during Holy Week, and I have even been unable to attend several large fundraising dinner/speaker events that I normally attend. But I certainly can try harder.
At the end of the day, though, the sad reality is that we are still in Limbo.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka