He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Epiphany Holy Water Blessing Ceremony
Last week I wrote a little about the upcoming Epiphany Water blessing and that this year was the first time we would be able to use the complete ceremony. I wasn’t sure how many people would come for it but I figured that, along with the choir, maybe a dozen people would make the trek. In case I was off by a lot, I printed out 25 copies of the basic blessing prayers in English for them to have. We set up 4 eight-foot tables across the front of the church outside of the altar rail and started labeling and opening up 6 cases of water bottles which I planned on blessing to give out this weekend to those who could not make it on Epiphany Eve. Some hearty helpers came in early and it is a good thing they did! People started coming in with salt (a necessary component of Holy Water in the old Rite) and water. Lots of it. We printed out 25 more copies of the previously mentioned prayers and it still seemed that less than half the people got one. All four tables were soon full and the large jugs underneath the tables had to share space with the continued “stream” of water being brought in. Most people were a bit taken back by the need to take the lids off the water, as they didn’t realize that exorcized and blessed salt had to be added to the freshly exorcized and blessed water.
Most of the time when people get their water blessed by a priest, he simply says a quick prayer over the container, and off they go. The new Rites, even when they are followed to a “t” are sorely lacking compared to the ancient Rites, as so much was simply discarded as “superfluous” and “unnecessary”. As for the Epiphany Eve blessing of the Holy Water, it is nowhere to be found in the new books. To drive this point home, let me show you what the prayer of blessing is in the new Rite “Book of Blessings.” As in most new Rite blessings, the priest “may” say a bunch of non-blessing stuff as written in the book or using “similar words” and perhaps read a few lines from Scripture, with a choice of eight passages being suggested. This part, of course, is optional. Then the prayer of blessing is written for him to say with “hands outstretched.” “Blessed are you, Lord, all-powerful God, who in Christ, the living water of salvation, blessed and transformed us. Grant that, when we are sprinkled with this water or make use of it, we will be refreshed inwardly by the power of the Holy Spirit and continue to walk in the new life we received at baptism. We ask this through Christ our Lord.” There is, of course, a second optional prayer, because, well, there always must be options! “Lord, holy Father, look with kindness on your children, redeemed by your Son and born to a new life by water and the Holy Spirit. Grant that those who are sprinkled with this water may be renewed in body and spirit and may make a pure offering of their service to you. We ask this through Christ our Lord.” Note that in reciting neither of these prayers does the priest make the sign of the cross, nor does he mention driving away demons (neither from the water nor with the water!), or sanctifying the persons, places, and things that will be sprinkled with the water. In fact, neither prayer of blessing even (read them again if you cannot believe this!) asks God to exorcize, sanctify, or bless the water! Need I mention that there is no mention of salt, either? It is pretty apparent even to newly ordained priests that they are better off “winging it” and making up their own prayer if they want the water to receive any sort of blessing at all.
Granted, the Epiphany Eve blessing of Holy Water is much more complex than the normal old Rite blessing of Holy Water, but even in the “normal” old blessing the priest not only exorcizes and blesses both salt and water, he also prays extra prayers while mixing them together, and, just to make sure there is no doubt about what he was doing, prays yet another prayer after the mixing is done. All of the prayers are explicit in stating what is being done and the sign of the cross is made multiple times during all of it. But on this one night, the evening before Epiphany, the old Rite adds even more solemnity to the blessing prayers. We started out with the chanting of the Litany of Saints, asking prayers of individual Saints (ora pro nobis) and multiple or groups of Saints (orate pro nobis). Then came my first beseeching of God that He would ✠ bless and ✠ sanctify the water, then we chanted the Agnus Dei, Kyrie, Pater Noster, and three Psalms. Then came the powerful exorcism prayer I showed you last week, followed by the Magnificat. Only after all of this did I pray the multiple “normal” exorcism and blessing prayers. The schola sang the Te Deum, a traditional hymn praising God with joy and thanksgiving. Oh, and a final prayer thanking God for granting all of the petitions for which we had asked. It took just over an hour, about twice what I expected and half of what I feared! Now that we have done this once in all its splendor, I believe that we may need a larger church to accommodate everybody that will participate next year!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Epiphany Holy Water
This coming Wednesday, January 6, is our parish Feast Day! On Tuesday, January 5, at 6:30 pm I will be exorcising and blessing special Epiphany Holy Water which will be made available beginning the next day (along with blessed chalk) for the traditional Epiphany House Blessing. Since we don’t have a neighborhood parish, I cannot simply walk from house to house to do the blessings, so I will give you a modified version of the blessing which should be done by the spiritual head of the house. All of the new parishioners will finally realize what the chalk marks above the doors of the church and rectory mean! As for the special Epiphany Holy Water, although I will be blessing cases of water in bottles, if you wish to bring your own holy water bottles to fill or if you wish to bring gallons of water to be blessed, feel free to do so. Salt, too. I will also need some help ahead of time opening up each of the bottles (exorcized and blessed salt has to be added) and again afterward closing them again, so if any of you can come early and/or stay late, I will be very appreciative. This special water blessing on the eve of Epiphany has, until this year, been a very small, inconspicuous blessing with little to no chanting since there has always been something interfering with the schedule. This year the schola will be present to chant the Psalms and Antiphons as the Church expects to happen at such a special ceremony. I don’t know how much time it will take, though, as this will be the first time we are doing it “by the book.” I am guessing 30 minutes but so many of our Traditional Latin ceremonies take longer than I expect that I have put it on my calendar to be finished by midnight! Again, we will start the blessing at 6:30 pm. Come one, come all.
Just to give you some idea of the power of the exorcisms and blessings of the Epiphany Holy Water, I have printed below the first (not only) exorcism prayer which I will be chanting that evening.
Exorcism against Satan and the apostate angels
In the name of our Lord Jesus ✠ Christ and by His power, we cast you out, every unclean spirit, every devilish power, every assault of the infernal adversary, every legion, every diabolical group and sect; begone and stay far from the Church of God, from all who are made in the image of God and redeemed by the precious blood of the divine Lamb ✠. Never again dare, you cunning serpent, to deceive the human race, to persecute the Church of God, nor to strike the chosen of God and to sift them as wheat ✠. For it is the Most High God who commands you ✠, He to whom you heretofore in your great pride considered yourself equal; He who desires that all men might be saved and come to the knowledge of truth. God the Father ✠ commands you. God the Son ✠ commands you. God the Holy ✠ Spirit commands you. The majesty of Christ, the eternal Word of God made flesh ✠ commands you; He who for the salvation of our race, the race that was lost through your envy, humbled Himself and became obedient even unto death; He who built His Church upon a solid rock, and proclaimed that the gates of hell should never prevail against her, and that He would remain with her all days, even to the end of the world. The sacred mystery of the cross ✠ commands you, as well as the power of all the mysteries of Christian faith ✠. The exalted Virgin Mary, Mother of God ✠ commands you, who in her lowliness crushed your proud head from the first moment of her Immaculate Conception. The faith of the holy apostles Peter and Paul and the other apostles ✠ commands you. The blood of the martyrs and the devout intercession ✠ of all holy men and women commands you. Therefore, accursed dragon and every diabolical legion, we adjure you by the living ✠ God, by the true ✠ God, by the holy ✠ God, by the God who so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but shall have life everlasting; cease your deception of the human race and your giving them to drink of the poison of everlasting damnation; desist from harming the Church and fettering her freedom. Begone Satan, you father and teacher of lies and enemy of mankind. Give place to Christ in whom you found none of your works; give place to the one, holy, Catholic, and apostolic Church, which Christ Himself purchased with His blood. May you be brought low under God's mighty hand. May you tremble and flee as we call upon the holy and awesome name of Jesus, before whom hell quakes, and to whom the virtues, powers, and dominations are subject; whom the cherubim and seraphim praise with unwearied voices, saying: Holy, holy, holy, Lord God of hosts!
Oh, yes, Epiphany Holy Water is special! It is powerful! It is useful! “Regular” Holy Water, blessed in the old Rite, not the new, has been exorcized and blessed and has had exorcized and blessed salt added, and has been given still more blessings. But this holy water gets so much more. Bring coolers and buckets and jugs of water for yourself and for distribution to family and friends all year long! See you Tuesday evening!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Christmas 2020
So here it is, a day or two after Christmas and everyone is sharing stories about how their family managed to cope in this most strange covid year. Since I usually don’t have time to sit down and chat after Mass (giving out penances and absolution does not count as “chatting”!) I will have to leave you with this written account of how my Christmas went. Obviously, with Christmas on a Friday and the bulletin needing to be out before the staff took off for the Holy Day, I had to write it before any of the described activities took place. Of course, these time warps happen around here all the time, so you should be used to them by now.
Christmas Eve was pretty busy around here. After the second morning Mass, there was, as normal for a weekday, Adoration and confessions. The confession lines had been long all week and the day before Christmas was no exception. Everybody and their brother wanted to be spiritually clean for Christmas, thanks be to God! After the Benediction, there was a large group of people waiting by the sacristy to have items blessed, most of which were going to be given as presents. Of course, even before I got done with the exorcisms and blessing of the various items, there was the all too often heard cry of, “Father, the toilet is overflowing!” The answer to the reply, “Which one?” determined how to fix it. It was the easy one. “Jiggle the handle,” I called back and continued casting demons out of some items on the table. “Make a note to exorcize the bathrooms, too,” I thought to myself. By the time I was finished the noon church bells were ringing. I headed over to the rectory office to plagiarize a little more from the Church Fathers, I mean, to finish preparing my sermon.
Probably 15 people came to the door bringing (more) homemade cookies, spiced nuts, and/or trail mix covered in white chocolate as they wished me and the staff a Merry Christmas. I certainly am not complaining, for that is what I ate for all of my meals last week and I probably have enough left for another week as well! Look at how thin Kim and Mark are and you know who really gets the goodies marked, “To Father and the staff, Merry Christmas!” The phones rang pretty constantly, too, as people kept calling to ask about the Mass schedule. I think Mark got tired of telling people that “That’s right, Midnight Mass starts at 12:00. No, midnight is not too late to hold Midnight Mass. Just because your parish up north always has it at 9:30 pm doesn’t mean that that is the traditional time...” He got good at figuring out where the callers were visiting from. “No, Father doesn’t celebrate the ‘Children’s Mass’ dressed as Santa Claus. You’re from Detroit, aren’t you?” “Your priest always gives general absolution before Christmas Masses? Let me guess. Chicago?” “You want to know which Mass is the shortest so that you can get in and out quickly? I thought you New Yorkers were all in quarantine!” And so passed the afternoon and evening.
A few of my family members came to Midnight Mass this year. Even though Aunt Irma was just here for Thanksgiving, she came back again anyway. It is always good to see her. I was going to re-introduce her to everyone before Mass because some of the new parishioners have never met her and some have even had the audacity to question her existence! But she showed up late and, since it was a candlelight Mass, it was too dark for anyone to see her. I know a few of you spoke with her after Mass when she handed you one of her computer tablets so that you could safely Zuum without needing masks (she still hasn’t figured that one out yet). She was also pretty vocal about the Vatican’s Nativity set, so if you heard a lady ranting about how her local boys and girls club had been ripped off by not getting credit for their work, you now know who she is. She claims that some of the special needs children back home had participated in a “Go Big or Go Home!” Beginners Porcelain class where they each created larger than life-sized characters whom they either admired or feared. “Little Jeremy, whose dad is on death row, made the ‘Darth Vader as an Executioner’ statue. Camille, who was born without legs, created a dog missing those appendages and other children followed her lead when making barnyard animals. Frankie follows Space X launches and so made a spaceman. Suzie made a chunky flying monkey from Wizard of Oz. Shawna made a soldier to honor her deployed older brother. Mary and Joseph are really just giant Weebles the Casimir twins put together...” And the list went on and on until Aunt Irma ran out of breath. “They never expected these to be Nativity figures,” she was telling everyone who would take her tablet and listen. “People would stop making fun of the pieces and calling them ‘ugly’ if they realized that these were first attempts at art by physically and mentally handicapped and abused children, not professional artists.” I was proud of her for defending those poor kids. I was equally relieved that this topic kept her from explicating her views on the recent CDF and USCCB letters on vaccinations.
I have many more Christmas stories to share, but there is no more room in this column. I hope your Christmas was as good as mine!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Christmas Arrives This Week!
Santa Claus is coming to town! St. Nicholas is soon to arrive! He will have checked his list twice to see who has been naughty and who has been nice. Out of love of God and love of neighbor due to his love of God, he will bring presents to all of God’s good little girls and boys on the very night that God’s Love was manifest to all of creation by the birth of Jesus, born of Mary at midnight on December 25 just over 2000 years ago. I know that St. Nick already made a visit to us here at Epiphany, but he is so generous that he will also visit us at our homes! I can hardly wait but wait I must. The week will drag on endlessly as I count down the days. Monday will last a whole week. Tuesday will seem like a whole month. By the time Wednesday is done, I will think that it certainly has to be next Christmas already! But then a magical day comes with Thursday. Thursday morning will start off just like every other Thursday morning. Masses, confessions, Adoration, and everything else will be just like normal but something will be different. There will be a whiff of Christmas in the air, something hard to explain but far different from the endless, impatient waiting of the previous days. The clock races forward and then it happens! Evening comes and everything changes! Christmas arrives with the first Christmas Mass!
The Novus Ordo Christmas Vigil Mass at 5:00 pm will be the first of the Christmas Masses and, therefore, the official start of Christmas. (For those new to Tradition, Vigils are different in the new and old liturgical calendars. In the new calendar, a Vigil Mass is usually a Sunday Mass celebrated on Saturday evening or the Feast Day’s Mass celebrated the evening before a Holy Day of Obligation. Attending such a Vigil Mass fulfills one’s obligation for the Sunday or Feast Day. In the old calendar, a Vigil Mass is generally the daily Mass celebrated the morning before one of the greatest Feasts, even one which is not a Holy Day of Obligation. It is meant to prepare the people for a big Feast, not to take its place as the new-calendar Vigil does. So those Thursday morning Masses I just mentioned are the TLM Vigil of Christmas Masses. Unlike the Novus Ordo Vigil, attending one does not take the place of the Christmas Mass, nor fulfill the obligation to attend Mass on Christmas.) We never know how many people to expect at that Mass on Christmas Eve. One year, if memory serves correctly, we had three large families show up from out of town and they doubled our usual crowd. Each was simply visiting relatives in the area and found our parish either online or by word of mouth. This year I don’t know if we can expect any travelers. Our Midnight Mass (at midnight!) will once again be celebrated by candlelight. Unless we just happen to have a priest, deacon, or subdeacon stop by unexpectedly, it won’t be a Solemn High Mass this year (oh, how we miss Fr. Vincent!) but it will still be a High Mass and the choir will be heavenly. Just as I remember from childhood, Midnight Mass is expected to be the largest of all the Christmas Masses at Epiphany as you set aside all such obstacles as “tired children” and “long, very late, drives home.” In the morning our 7:30 am Low Mass will gather all of the early risers who must then wait until after Mass to open presents and eat breakfast. What a great explanation I heard one year about how the parents were teaching their children not only patience by attending that Mass but also teaching them that the greatest part of Christmas truly is attending the Mass celebrating Christ’s birth, rather than getting and giving presents, as important as that is. The 10:30 am Mass will see the return of the schola for another High Mass. This year we won’t have to worry about rushing through either of those morning Masses, as there won’t be a Vietnamese Mass in between. Parking should be a bit easier, too! Then, at 1:00 pm, we will have our last Christmas Mass of the day. Since we have never had a 1:00 pm Mass on Christmas (or any other Feast Day, since it was only begun this past June --temporarily, it seemed-- to allow covid anti-social distancing at the popular 10:30 Mass) I don’t know what size congregation to expect. Perhaps it will be full of families who were able to sleep in (hohoho) and then open presents and eat a hearty breakfast before coming to Mass. We shall see.
Fortunately, we will have two more weekends between Christmas and our big Epiphany Celebration which we will hold on Sunday, January 10. During that time we will get a huge tent set up behind the church, place dozens of tables and hundreds of chairs under it, get it all decorated beautifully, and get the hall ready for any overflow if needed. There will be a catered meal and so much more going on that day. Remember, the 1:00 pm Mass will not be celebrated that day, as there will be even more noise than normal, making it impossible to have a truly reverent Mass during the festival. The Epiphany Council of Catholic Women is the driving force behind this event, so when I wrote above that “we” would do this work, I actually meant “they”! Thank you, ladies! Merry Christmas, everyone!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Memories!
Last week I wrote about the growth, against all worldly odds, of our parish. But as I started looking back a year I saw not only the Mass attendance but also something else of great importance. One year ago this week we had our handicap ramp installed! That was a long-planned project that took quite a bit of time and effort to figure out how to get the plans approved, pass the permitting process, and comply with all disabilities legislation. It seems like such a simple thing but it certainly wasn’t! But what a blessing it has been for those who have a difficult time managing even the few stairs we have leading into the church and social hall. As I was thinking about that project, it dawned on me (you could say that I had an epiphany) that many of you don’t know what changes have occurred in the five years that the Traditional Latin Mass has been at the parish. On our website, you can find a whole section devoted to photos going back to the beginning. If you have the patience to scroll all the way back, you can see photos of the church as it was. There was a different altar. The old one is currently being used as a credence table in the social hall, keeping our monstrance, extra altar cards, missal stand, and other essential objects for Mass out of harm’s way. There were two matching side altars, one of which was being used as a pedestal for the Sacred Heart statue. The pedestals currently holding statues were used as flower stands. The old ambo (pulpit) matched the altar set. There was no altar rail (although there had been one at one time). We got one from a second-hand church supply company. That is also where we got our marble baptismal font. You really should see what it replaced! The tabernacle was completely different, too. It was shaped like a rectangle except that the top went down a couple of inches making it a “v” shape instead of flat. It was replaced first with a tabernacle which had been made to fit on top of the current altar (when it was against the wall in its previous home) and was later replaced with the current tabernacle. There are also photos of Mass in the rectory chapel. I didn’t see any which included the plexiglass altar (which you may have noticed was in the social hall for Masses during the covid lockouts, which is also when the current church sanctuary flooring and steps were installed). The dark wood paneling in the chapel was replaced when the roof decided that it was allergic to water and so let it pass through into the chapel, necessitating a remodel of sorts. That also led to a new roof being installed on the rectory and the school, both of which had been routinely patched for years. You will also find photos of the church being covered with black tarps as we had to have it fumigated to kill the termites. Even now you can check out the front right pew to see just how much damage they were doing!
Looking back at those old photos as I wrote this was fun for me. There were so many things that we were doing as a parish that few attending Traditional Latin Masses in this diocese had ever done before. Since 1969 there had not been a parish dedicated to the Old Rite in our diocese. The few places where the TLM was celebrated never had the ability to allow so much as coffee and donuts after Mass or a regularly scheduled potluck. At one of the parishes, they wouldn’t even allow the priest to keep anything needed for the TLM at the parish, so everything from books to vestments to chalice and bells all had to be loaded up, brought in, set up for use, and taken back down and packed away when Mass was done, each and every week. At this parish, we, for the first time, had the opportunity to allow the parishioners to stay and socialize after Mass and even during the week! While the adults got to know each other, the children had the ability to play and there were footballs and kickballs and frisbees and ping-pong available. What a huge difference all of that makes in a parish!
But more than that, for the first time we also had the opportunity to celebrate feasts which for decades had not been available except in the New Order Rites--if they were done at all--such as all three Christmas Masses (starting with Midnight Mass), Epiphany Mass celebrated on the traditional Feast of Epiphany (January 6), Tenebrae, Rorate Coeli Masses, Ember Days, Holy Thursday’s Mass of the Lord’s Supper, Good Friday’s Passion and Veneration of the Cross, the Holy Saturday blessing of Easter Baskets, and, joy of all joys, the Holy Saturday nighttime Vigil and Mass, all done in the 1962 form! We had processions of various kinds for Candlemas, Corpus Christi, and Palm Sunday. We celebrated, in the Old Rite, baptisms, confirmations (Bishop Parkes even celebrated them for us one year!), weddings, and funerals. We had Low Mass and High Mass and, occasionally, Solemn High Mass. I had to learn (and am still learning) how to celebrate all of these, as I didn’t even chant Mass before coming here! Many of you, new to the parish, still haven’t experienced much of this. You are in for a treat when you finally see what I mean. The photos are great. But greater still is experiencing this in person!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Mass Attendance Statistics
I have been going over the results of our October Mass counts in the diocese. We get these compilations twice a year, the other time being after the February parish Mass counts. Every parish (there are officially 80 parishes and missions in the diocese) counts noses at their Sunday Masses and sends the completed report to the chancery office in St. Petersburg, where somebody tallies the numbers and produces nice spreadsheets for whatever use they have. The pastors each get a copy of these spreadsheets to be used as we see fit. The numbers are presented in two ways. The first spreadsheet in this latest compilation had each week of October broken out with the reported numbers listed by week, followed by the average weekly total. The average weekly attendance for the Month of October was then compared to the previous year’s weekly average in October and the percent of increase or decrease was noted. It is this result that I mentioned a couple of weeks ago. Epiphany’s October 2020 Mass attendance from week one through week four is as follows: 636, 560, 639, and 674 for an average of 627 people attending Sunday Mass per week. Epiphany’s average during the same month in 2019 was 412, so we had an increased Mass attendance this year of 215 people, or 52.2%. No other parish in the diocese had a year to year increase in October. The next closest parishes (numbers wise, not geographically) were St. Mary in Tampa, which only had an 11.9% decrease, and St. Vincent de Paul parish in Holiday, which was down 13.7%. St. Anthony the Abbot in Brooksville and the Holy Martyrs of Vietnam in Largo were the next best with decreases of only 23.4% and 28.1% respectively. All of the other parishes were down more than 30%, for a grand total average of a 52.4% decrease across the board. (FYI, St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission was down by 39.9% even as they were preparing to move out of Epiphany and into their own church.)
The second spreadsheet shows the current year’s Sunday Mass attendance plus the last six years’ count. In October of 2014, before the Traditional Latin Mass began being celebrated at Epiphany, the numbers are shown as DNR, or Did Not Report. Perhaps someone forgot to count or to send in the results to the chancery. Regardless of why there were no numbers reported that month, it was the following August (2015) that the TLM started here. I was told (perhaps through the numbers for the February count) that 87 people were currently attending the Saturday Vigil Mass and two Sunday Masses combined. So that is our starting point. Now back to October numbers. In 2015 we had 242 people at all of the Masses combined, in 2016 that increased to 305. 2017 saw a slight decrease to 298. In 2018 we increased to 322 followed by a significant jump in 2019 to 412 and, finally, to this crushing pandemic year, where, as mentioned previously, we rose to 627! With these results, there are now 49 parishes which are smaller than Epiphany!
The most amazing thing (as I see it) about these numbers has nothing to do with our increase as every other parish decreases during this extended pandemic panic, as impressive as that is. Rather, our increase is impressive because it has all come about because Epiphany celebrates as her norm the form of the Mass that everybody insists--even while seeing such numbers--that nobody wants! Oh, we still have our sole Novus Ordo Mass, the Saturday Vigil, but that Mass still averages just over 20 people. The increasing numbers are all due to the TLM. When I was first asked by parishioners, three parishes ago, to celebrate the Traditional Latin Mass, I, too, was of the impression that nobody would show up for one. After all, I said, I had been a priest for over a decade and not a single person had ever asked for a “Latin Mass.” So I understand why my brother priests don’t get it. We have all been told our entire lives (those raised after the second Vatican council, that is) that the “old Mass” was terrible, that the priest turned his back on the laity, and that the old ladies prayed (O, the horror!) the rosary during Mass. It was presented as a Mass of priestly dominance, and only suitable for the widows who had nothing else to do. But every young priest (I flatter myself!) who has learned to celebrate this ancient Mass and the other sacraments out of the old Ritual--especially baptism--soon gets the cobwebs cleaned out of his brain and realizes that the old ways flourished and were fine-tuned for nearly two thousand years not because they were so awful but because they were so prayerfully effective!
I do not believe that these statistics are unique to Epiphany. I suspect that something similar is happening everywhere the TLM is celebrated by a priest who really believes in his priesthood (and, thus, in the Church), something that often happens to a much greater level after learning the TLM than before. Priests and bishops, seeing such numbers everywhere, will one day do as I did and stop assuming that the people don’t ask for the “Usus Antiquior” because they know the difference and prefer the new. Instead, the clergy will realize that the people have been cheated out of their heritage and treasure. Their people don’t ask for the venerable old Rites because they don’t know the richness of what was taken from them. Yet behold! The Restoration swiftly cometh!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: My Virtual Thanksgiving
Although last week I wrote a tongue in cheek “not much to be thankful for this year” article, you all know that I really have had too many blessings from God to count. One of the biggest blessings is family. Not the normal type of family. Not the Norman Rockwell type of family. Certainly, not the perfect family. But a crazy family keeps things from being boring. Or so my sister recently told me, not realizing that I would soon be quoting her! My crazy family Thanksgiving story is about to begin, so sit down for a spell. Remember, as always, that due to early bulletin publication printing deadlines during the holidays, I had to write this before our office closed for this feast day.
It has been a while since any of us had seen Aunt Irma, what with the covid panic and all. The only news she gets is from the Communist News Network and her online news”paper” subscription, so every day she hears and reads with growing terror about the daily “Record Cases” count and number of “deaths with covid associations.” In her mind, as planned by the great powers, of course, every “case” equates to a new, gory death. She is proud to proclaim her support for the censorship being done by NotYouTube, Tweeter, and Farcebook, which keeps her safe from hearing “conspiracy theorists” asking such things as “Where did the flu go?” and “Is the efficacy of increasing Vitamin D and decreasing excess weight being ignored because the powers that be cannot make millions of dollars selling a ‘miracle cure vaccine’ if something simple and cheap works?” or doctors quoting actual CDC studies about the futility of wearing masks, or even people simply quoting from the WHO website about how contact tracing doesn’t help stop the spread of viruses after the first few weeks that they are unleashed and lockdowns do nothing except prolong the course of the infection and destroy lives beyond what the virus does. She is, of course, terrified of breathing, speaking, singing, and touching. So it was a shock when she accepted my sister’s invitation to come and spend Thanksgiving with the rest of the family!
She wasn’t very forthcoming but she simply stated that she had heard of a new technology that would allow her to remain safe. We were all taking bets about what kind of protective devices she was going to show up with. I bet that she would show up with a hazmat suit and N100 mask. My brother figured that she would be decked out with a deep-sea diver’s full getup including a long oxygen hose which would, pumped full from a clean source of air outside (maybe on the roof so that nobody would be able to stand next to it and breathe), be dragged throughout the house, snaking after her wherever she went. Mom guessed, feeling a little cheeky just then, that Aunt Irma would wear one of the old “stork masks” that people wore during the Black Death plague, insinuating that she may just be old enough to have saved hers! As you can imagine, our guesses just got silly from there. But we were all wrong. Further wrong than backward, if that is possible.
Aunt Irma hadn’t yet arrived on Thanksgiving Day when the festivities got underway. We were doing a wine tasting with various appetizers that had been set out. We had a bourbon barrel aged pinot grigio paired with ghost pepper poppers, a white cabernet sauvignon accompanying pumpkin spiced stone crab claws, and a 1934 Dom Perignon mutually benefitting some exquisite Ketchup flavored Doritos from Canada. My brother-in-law was just about to put the spiral ham into the deep fryer and his turkrabbeapig (like a turducken but this turkey was stuffed with a rabbit which was stuffed with a guinea pig) was nearing perfection in the smoker. We had just about given up on Aunt Irma when in she burst. She wore no mask, no gloves, no protective gown, no goggles. Just regular old-lady-imitating-a-teenager clothes. She was struggling with a rather awkward box and asked everyone to hold their breath and come quickly to help her distribute the goodies inside. It was full of small electronic tablets, one for everyone. They weren’t early Christmas gifts, she explained, but rather safety devices to protect her from us and us from her and from each other so that none of us could catch the covid. She couldn’t exactly explain it, she said, but we had to trust her and follow her directions. We each powered on our tablet and then signed in to Zuum. “This,” she nearly squealed, “is the greatest medical miracle thing. Public service announcement ads keep telling us that we can have a fun and safe Thanksgiving if we just Zuum with each other. They say businesses are doing it all the time now to keep their employees safe and we can do it as a family, too!”
So this is how we spent the rest of the day. We each held our tablet and, whenever we wanted to speak with or listen to Aunt Irma we had to look at her image on our tablet to safely converse, even if she were sitting right next to us. She was convinced that somehow this electronic Zuum thingy zapped the virus and kept us all safe. Maybe it was just the wine, but we haven’t laughed as much since covid was created as we did Zuuming the rest of the day. And now we know we will see Aunt Irma for Christmas, too!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thanksgiving? For What?
This week we have a national holiday that has me wondering, "What, exactly, are we to be thankful for this year?" For our health? No, for we are told every time we are forced to put on a face diaper or stand on the little blue “6 feet for your safety!” dot or refrain from shaking hands that we are ill; that we harbor a deadly, wildly contagious disease. We cannot visit grandma because we will willfully, purposefully, perhaps even gleefully, carry our contagion to her in order to make her die a terrifying death (after locking her up in a hospital prison cell with no visitors allowed, neither family nor friends nor priest). No, we are so unhealthy that we are constantly bombarded with dire warnings of “skyrocketing cases!!!” of people who may not even have imagined that they were deathly ill but were forced to take the covid test so that they could fly or go to a ball game or attend school or some such used-to-be-ordinary event and, lo and behold, turn up positive for something that may or may not be a current covid infection or past coronavirus infection or nothing at all. Mandatory reporting of such ill people to the health authorities, 10-14 days of quarantine, and contact tracing does not show much of an indication of good health, even if the grandma-killer has no illness of any sort. In fact, that sort of person is put forth as the most fearful kind of unhealthy person of all, since those who are showing signs of covid sickness are never highlighted in what used to pass for the news as the “superspreaders”. That’s right, anyone who has symptoms of illness is certainly a killer but those who are healthy are the most unhealthy of all. Plus, even after beating all odds and somehow surviving the unsurvivable covid monster, those who are scientifically shown to be immune must still wear the mask, refrain from physical contact with any other human person, and never, never visit grandma in the nursing home. After all, two people out of the millions and millions of those who, to the experts’ consternation, somehow survived covid have been reinfected so immunity cannot be real. So no giving thanks for health, for the sick ones are not healthy and the healthy ones are even less healthy.
How about giving thanks for family? After all, the days around Thanksgiving are always the most traveled days of the year, as people go home to enjoy the great festival with their families. But, alas, this year we are told that we should not go to anyone’s house nor to have anyone over to our house for fear of killing them. Or them killing us. Or all of us killing each other. Family members cannot come if they have the sniffles, of course, since even suffering from allergies proves them to be grandma killers. But they most certainly cannot come if they are well, for that somehow offers even more proof that they are going to infect everyone.
So maybe we can be thankful for all the food that we will have? Especially since we cannot share it with anyone, we will have plenty of leftovers this year, which, in “normal” years, would be something worth celebrating. But this is not a normal year. The food came from the grocery store, where, judging from the fact that everyone wears masks, everyone must be ill from covid. Shoppers and workers were all mutually infecting each other, killing each other’s grandmas. Plus, covid attacks plump people more than skinny people, so eating more of the Thanksgiving meal will make people more prone to dying from the disease that they spread while purchasing it in the first place. Nothing to be thankful for in any of that.
But at least we can give thanks for the money we saved by staying home instead of traveling or the money we saved by not entertaining those who didn’t travel to see us, right? Not so fast. Our economy has yet to recover from the “two-week” lockdowns and continuing restrictions and fear, so for far too many people there is a net loss of income rather than any kind of savings. The social isolation during this holiday just makes the financial desolation that much more unbearable. A sarcastic, “Thanks a lot” is not a true thanksgiving.
At least we can go to church on Thanksgiving, to give thanks to God for --so far-- not getting arrested for breathing. But wait! The same “news” outlets screaming that the asymptomatic cases are setting records insist that bars, restaurants, and churches are the main places that covid is spread, so those three big baddies must be cut out of our holiday this year along with cutting out family, friends, and travel. Just to drive home the evil of ignoring the covid experts’ suggestions/demands, imagine a horror movie where the main characters combine these major grandma killing activities by 1) gathering with family and friends (maybe even *gasp* traveling to be with them!) and either enjoying food and drinks at a parish potluck after Mass; or 2) by praying grace and giving a toast at a restaurant. Either awful scenario is enough to send shivers down the spine of any caring person.
Well, I guess that leaves only one thing left to give thanks for: that our nation united together to hold an honest, fair and square, unquestioningly above board, and verifiably on the level election in order to choose the brightest, most competent, and most morally upright people to run our local and national governments.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Bid Farewell to the Vietnamese Mission
Next week St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission will celebrate their last Masses at Epiphany. They recently purchased a Lutheran church compound, which includes a church building, a gymnasium with an indoor basketball court (plenty of room as a social hall), and a school building. They have been spending countless hours fixing it up, inside and out, to make it their new home. The one thing lacking on this property, which is located in the Town and Country area of west Tampa near Incarnation Catholic Church is a rectory. So Fr. Chien has asked to continue to stay at our rectory until they can build a new house for him next to the new church. When they leave they will be taking many objects and items with them which will be of use in their new church so that they don’t have to start completely from scratch. Although I have offered to round up some volunteers to help them move, they have assured me that they can--and want to--do it by themselves. So say goodbye and say a prayer for them!
What will this mean for Epiphany? There are some good and some bad aspects to losing them. They have been here for a long time and, although there used to be some interaction between the two communities, ever since the primary Masses and sacraments of the parish began being celebrated in the Traditional Rites, there has been very little to no overlap. There were no more bilingual “combined” Masses, for instance, for Christmas or Easter, since the forms of the Mass were incompatible with each other, where previously only the language was different. So, of necessity, there have been constant tradeoffs between “good” Mass times and “bad” Mass times, with each group switching each year. Now both communities can set their own schedule! Both communities had also grown so large that neither of us could fit in the social hall for a large gathering, let alone invite the other one to join in the celebration. It hadn’t been so difficult when both groups were small. In their new place, they now have a large hall and we will try to figure out how and where to build a new, larger one ourselves! But for now, at least there is no competition for the limited space we have. Sundays the classrooms will also be available for us to use before, during, and after our Masses. Back when Epiphany had no children (it seems impossible, yet there was only one child in the parish when I arrived 5 years ago, a three year old girl whose family left shortly thereafter), St. Joseph got used to having all of the classrooms to themselves. It was difficult for them to adjust to the fact that we needed the space for our children, too. Now we won’t be in each other’s way.
But we will also have to pick up the entire bill for such things as electricity, maintenance, and staff, all of which we currently split with St. Joseph. We will also have to take over things that their parishioners used to do around the grounds. Many of the plants and flowers were tenderly cared for by them, and I am sure we will find out many more things only once nobody is doing them anymore! Of course, they are in the same situation as we are as far as all of this goes, and they will have to deal with us not being there to assist them, either!
Lest I forget something very important, I must make sure to mention that they will also be getting a new name! They will now be called, “St. Joseph Vietnamese Parish.” They will no longer be a mission but a parish! Most people won’t think much of that but it is a statement of trust on behalf of the Bishop that they can make it on their own without needing any assistance from others. (They still won’t have any parish boundaries but will instead be independent of but within the parish boundaries of Incarnation, meaning that St. Joseph’s priest will not be responsible for the spiritual well-being of any of the neighborhood people, nor have to make sick calls at the local hospital or nursing homes, but will be solely responsible for those attending St. Joseph parish.) They will no longer be “children” but “adults” in a manner of speaking, which I hope will be well appreciated by everyone in their community. As for us, like proud parents, we can shed a few happy tears as we watch them go, with mixed emotions, but mostly with happiness for them as we wish them well in their new parish home and new responsibilities.
As for our future, we are working on a temporary fix to the air conditioning problem and have had a couple of meetings with civil engineers and others to see about what we can build on our property, how we can expand to meet our increased needs due to our current and future growth, and plan accordingly. Of course, a lot depends on the Bishop and what his plans are for us and for the diocese, especially as so many parishes are struggling right now. Building projects may not even be on his radar for a while. For now, we are growing and have become a respite for the weary, a source of hope for the disheartened, an inspiration for the young-at-heart, and a light in a world of darkness. No matter what the future holds, since God is in charge, great things await the people of Epiphany!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Thank You For The Spiritual Bouquet!
This week I finally got around to reading the Spiritual Bouquet cards so many of you filled out for me for Priesthood Sunday a while back. I was touched by the beauty of the cards themselves, although I had seen them before they were written upon, but even more so by the beauty of the offerings of prayers expressed so sweetly and succinctly. If you remember how they were laid out, with the chosen prayer to be offered on my behalf followed by a number of flowers, you can see how different people filled them out differently. Some circled a few flowers. For instance, on one card next to “Mass” followed by five flowers, three of them were circled. Three Masses for me! Others wrote next to or above the flowers, so next to “Memorare” the four flowers were untouched but three stars were inked in! Still others made little notes, such as “One a week” after the “Act of Charity” flowers. Some cards had written notes on the back, a few were signed with names or initials, and one was obviously from one of the youngsters and was just scribbled on. It was my favorite! There were too many prayers listed for me to count (since I wasn’t homeschooled!) and I appreciate them all. I want to comment on one of them in particular that caught my attention. Under “Other” “Psalm 35, 5 times” was written. I picked up my trusty Douay-Rheims bible to see what was being prayed for me (no, I do not have all of the Psalms memorized!) and I will share this with you. I have to confess: I am not quite sure what to make of it. “The unjust hath said within himself, that he would sin: there is no fear of God before his eyes.” Oh-oh! What is this person trying to say to/about me? I continued reading, hoping for a change in tone. “For in his sight he hath done deceitfully, that his iniquity may be found unto hatred.” No change of message yet! “The words of his mouth are iniquity and guile: he would not understand that he might do well.” Okay, I thought to myself, this is being prayed five times for me. I better start paying attention to something in here, even if it hurts! “He hath devised iniquity on his bed, he hath set himself on every way this is not good: but evil he hath not hated.” Whew! That’s not exactly a pleasant way to be seen by a parishioner! “O Lord, thy mercy is in heaven, and thy truth reacheth even to the clouds.” All right, at least he or she is asking God to be merciful to me, a sinner! “Thy justice is as the mountains of God, thy judgments are a great deep.” Oh, no! Mercy, Lord, not justice! “Men and beasts thou wilt preserve, O Lord: O how hast thou multiplied thy mercy, O God! But the children of men shall put their trust under the covert of thy wings They shall be inebriated with the plenty of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the torrent of thy pleasure. For with thee is the fountain of life; and in thy light we shall see light. Extend thy mercy to them that know thee, and thy justice to them that are right in heart. Let not the foot of pride come to me, and let not the hand of the sinner move me. There the workers of iniquity are fallen, they are cast out, and could not stand.” So it ends on a good note. Maybe this is being prayed for me so that I may repent of my numerous sins and receive mercy from God rather than reap His justice? I hope so! Heaven awaits only those who do so, even among priests.
Of course, there could also be another possible meaning to the Psalm being prayed. Maybe the person praying it used a different bible translation. The translation itself would not be so vastly different as to change the meaning, but the numbering system used is not always the same! Did you know that different bible versions number the Psalms differently, even among Catholic bibles? So I pulled out the New American bible and opened to Psalm 35. “Fight, O Lord, against those who fight me; war against those who make war upon me.” Oh, yeah, this one might be the one! “Take up the shield and buckler, and rise up in my defense. Brandish the lance, and block the way in the face of my pursuers; Say to my soul, ‘I am your salvation.’” This Psalm is a bit too long to quote in its entirety but it continues by showing that the writer (King David) has enemies who plot against him, who fake friendship, whose delight is to destroy him through any evil means, similar to what we are currently witnessing so clearly in both the secular and ecclesial worlds. But it is a Psalm of trust in God to conquer evil men and for the good men to give glory to God through both their reliance on Him and their praise of Him. It is scary due to the evil that even “God’s chosen one” had to endure but comforting at the same time, secure in the knowledge that God is always in control even when wicked men seem to be winning. This Psalm, by the way, is numbered 34 in the Douay-Rheims. Whichever Psalm is being said five times for me, I am sure God knows the reason it was chosen! Thank you!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Expanded Plenary Indulgence Opportunities!
November 1-8 we are always given opportunities to receive (or rather, to give!) a plenary indulgence on behalf of a soul in purgatory by visiting a cemetery and praying for the repose of the souls of the faithful departed (along with the other necessary things that go along with the actual indulgenced act, such as prayers for the intentions of the Pope, confession, being in a state of grace, not being attached to even venial sin, etc.). Due to covid, the following decree expands this to every day of the month of November! Also, the plenary indulgence for 2 November for the faithful who visit a church or oratory and recite an Our Father and the Apostles Creed can be transferred to the previous or following Sunday or to All Saints or even on another day of November as the faithful choose. Sorry, it is not yet available in English.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
D E C R E T U M
Vertente anno, propter pandemiam morbi “covid 19”, Indulgentiae plenariae pro fidelibus defunctis totum prorogabuntur per mensem novembrem,commutatis condicionibus piisque operibus, ut christianus populus in tuto sit.
Ad hanc Apostolicam Paenitentiariam complures Sacrorum Pastorum supplicationes nuper pervenerunt, quibus postulabatur ut vertente anno, propter epidemiam morbi “covid-19”, piae commutentur operae ad plenarias lucrandas Indulgentias, animabus in Purgatorio detentis tantummodo applicabiles ad normam Enchiridii Indulgentiarum (conc. 29, § 1). Quam ad rem eadem Apostolica Paenitentiaria, de speciali mandato Ss.mi D. N. Francisci Pp., libenter statuit ac decernit ut, ad vitanda concursa, nonnullis in nationibus et territoriis vetita vel saltem dissuasa, vertente anno:
a.- plenaria Indulgentia pro pie visitantibus coemeterium et, vel mente tantum, pro defunctis exorantibus, singulis octo diebus, more solito a primo usque ad octavum Novembris tantum adfixa, pro fidelium utilitate, in alios dies usque ad octo, etiam seiunctos, intra mensem Novembrem transferri possit, a singulis fidelibus libere eligendos;
b.- plenaria Indulgentia, diei II Novembris, in Commemoratione omnium fidelium defunctorum adfixa, pro pie visitantibus ecclesiam vel oratorium ibique “Pater” et “Credo” recitantibus, non tantum in diem Dominicum antecedentem aut subsequentem aut diem sollemnitatis Omnium Sanctorum transferri possit, sed etiam in alium diem intra mensem Novembrem, a singulis fidelibus libere eligendum.
Senes, infirmi omnesque qui gravi causa domo exire nequeunt, ex. gr. decretis prohibentibus, ut fedeles frequentes in loca sacra conveniant, plenariam consequi poterunt Indulgentiam, dummodo, animo voto sese iis sociantes, qui pias egerint visitationes, de quibus supra, concepta detestatione cuiusque peccati et intentione praestandi, ubi primum licuerit, tres consuetas condiciones (sacramentali Confessione, eucharistica Communione et oratione ad mentem Summi Pontificis), coram quavis imagine D. N. Iesu Christi vel Beatae Virginis Mariae, pias pro defunctis preces recitaverint (ex. gr. Laudes et Vesperas Officii Defunctorum, Rosarium Marianum, Coronam Divinae Misericordiae aliaeque preces pro defunctis christifidelibus magis caras), vel Evangelii lectionem e Liturgia Defunctorum ad modum lectionis spiritalis legerint vel in misericordiae operam incubuerint, doloribus vel propriae vitae incommodis Deo clementi oblatis.
Quo igitur accessus, ad divinam veniam per Ecclesiae claves consequendam, facilior pro pastorali caritate evadat, haec Paenitentiaria enixe rogat ut sacerdotes legitime adprobati, prompto et generoso animo celebrationi Paenitentiae sese praebeant ac S. communionem infirmis ministrent.
Attamen, pro spiritalibus condicionibus ad Indulgentiam plene acquirendam, semper valet huius Apostolicae Paenitentiariae Nota De Reconciliationis Sacramento, tempore pandemiae morbi “covid 19” celebrando.
Denique, cum autem animae in Purgatorio detentae fidelium suffragiis, potentissimum vero acceptabili Altaris sacrificio iuvantur (cfr. Conc. Tr., Sess. XXV, decr. De Purgatorio), sacerdotes omnes enixe rogantur ut die Commemorationis omnium fidelium defunctorum, ter sacrum facere ad normam Constitutionis Apostolicae “Incruentum Altaris”, a Benedicto Pp. XV, v.m., die X Augusti MCMXV datae.
Praesenti totum per mensem novembrem valituro. Contrariis quibuscumque minime obstantibus.
Datum Romae, ex aedibus Paenitentiariae Apostolicae, die XXII mensis Octobris anni MMXX, in S. Ioannis Pauli Pp. memoria.
MAURUS Card. PIACENZA
From the Pastor: Nothing Humorous This Week
Last week’s article was just for fun. This week’s is all business. Sorry about that! The first order of business is All Souls Day. This is your last week to write down the names of those whom you wish me to pray for on All Souls. Remember, since most priests seem to canonize the deceased person at each funeral Mass, most people have become convinced that their loved one is now “in a better place” or “playing golf with Jesus” or something like that. Priests and people (but Father, priests are people, too!) alike spout lovely nonsense such as, “The funeral Mass is for the living, not the deceased” and therefore do not pray for the repose of the soul of the very one being laid to rest. November 2, All Souls Day, is the one special liturgical day which really focuses on the fact that the dead person may very well be suffering terrible pains of purgation, as if being refined by fire, and will benefit tremendously by the prayers of the very few living who still care enough to pray and offer sacrifices (and The Sacrifice) on their behalf. So write down the names of your departed family and friends and bring them in sometime this week or this coming weekend. They will be eternally grateful for your love and prayers. If they get released from Purgatory or even if their sufferings there are lessened because of your simple act, you know that they will pray for you with great fervor whenever they see God face to face!
The second order of business is an update on the air conditioning system in the church. You would not believe how many AC technicians simply shake their heads and leave once they get a good look at what we have. Even the head honcho at the diocesan office of construction came out to see why the estimates were so high. He came expecting that we were being ripped off. He left understanding why we are seeing such a high cost looming ahead. He did have some good news for us, though, insofar as the possibility of building a new church, social hall, school, parking lot and retention pond goes. He thinks we have plenty of land to work with here if we want to build new rather than spend like new on this current building. So if any of you have a few million dollars burning a hole in your pocket, let me know. In the meantime, we are looking into keeping the old AC units functioning as long as possible and perhaps adding some smaller units to make up for the half of one which is currently not functioning. Heck, I am even looking at putting in window units everywhere rather than spending 400 grand replacing the old system. They wouldn’t look too good, but if they replaced the current stained glass windows it might even be an improvement!
The next and last item to be covered is the latest bit of unexplainable stuff to come out of Rome. Here are the headlines: “Pope Francis, in Shift for Church, Voices Support for Same-Sex Civil Unions” (NY Times); “Pope endorses civil union laws for same-sex couples” (CNN); “Pope calls for civil unions for same-sex couples, in major departure from Vatican doctrine” (NBC News); and from the UK’s highest circulation paper according to Ed Pentin’s tweet of their front page, “Pope Blesses Gay Weddings” (Metro); the list could go on and on. Did the Bishop of Rome really make such statements? Yes. Did he make it part of Church teaching? No. Or, a more accurate answer might be, not yet. He simply gave yet one more interview which never should have been given, only this time it is an interview on camera and shown in an anti-Trump movie which has just now (curious timing!) been released. There is no Catholic priest (no real Catholic priest, that is) who ever hears the words, “He gave another interview” without cringing and wondering out loud and with a groan, “What now?” So far (I had to write this the very night that this news broke, so hopefully there will be more like this coming) one US bishop has put forth a useful statement about the political propaganda movie’s big quote. From Bishop Tobin of the Diocese of Providence, Rhode Island, we read on his website, “October 21, 2020. The Holy Father’s apparent support for the recognition of civil unions for same-sex couples needs to be clarified. The Pope’s statement clearly contradicts what has been the long-standing teaching of the Church about same-sex unions. The Church cannot support the acceptance of objectively immoral relationships. Individuals with same-sex attraction are beloved children of God and must have their personal human rights and civil rights recognized and protected by law. However, the legalization of their civil unions, which seek to simulate holy matrimony, is not admissible.” He also later tweeted, “Popes John Paul and Benedict, in formal teaching said that same-sex civil unions were wrong and that Catholics had to oppose them. Pope Francis, in a movie, said that same-sex civil unions were helpful and should be promoted. So, I ask, how could there possibly be any confusion?” I answer that there is no real confusion. There is a battle between good and evil being played out for all to see. The “confusion” is hiding nothing. All who have eyes to see, see quite clearly. “Choose this day...whom you would rather serve.” Where and how you spend eternity depends on your choice. “...as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Prime Days or Doomsday?
Amazon Prime Days returned! Yes, these are the days that everyone seems to go gaga over shopping online. Prime Days were postponed by a few months this year due to that nasty computer virus, COVID 19. When the CO(mputer)VI(rus)D(duh!) 19 virus first started spreading throughout the internet, I quickly shut my electronics down for safety’s sake. Nothing electric, no computer, no tablet, no TV, not even the refrigerator, was left running. I wasn’t about to let that nasty particle into the rectory where it would infect all of the appliances and would probably spread to even the battery operated gizmos like smoke detectors and wall clocks once it got a foothold. Heck, even the wooden chairs might not be safe. But after months of being cut off from the web, I really wanted--needed--an internet fix. I would have settled for a quick glance at Farcebook, and I nearly did several times, but my Catholic guilt got the best of me and I couldn’t justify “killing grandma”--as everyone kept accusing gamers and bloggers of doing when they just wouldn’t stop playing and writing even to save the world--just to see posts about what people were eating (accompanied by the inevitable nasty comments from “friends” and trolls deploring the restaurant of choice, the type of food, etc.) and memes with Jesus facepalming just about everything. I nearly caved to the desire to watch cute kitten videos on YouTube but thankfully the Google censors were removing them as soon as they were reported in a fairly successful attempt to keep us from temptation and electronic transmission of the infection. But when it was announced that Prime Days were back on the schedule, I knew the time had come. If Amazon was having this massive event, it must be safe to go online!
I set my alarm clock for 2:37 am so that I would be up and ready for the 3:00 am start time. I needn’t have bothered, though, since I was so jacked up that I couldn’t sleep a wink anyway. As I prepared to get my computer fired up and running, the panic the government so lovingly instilled in me kept welling up. My index finger trembled as it hovered over the power button. Was I doing the right thing, entering into this crowded buying frenzy? I wanted to push such doubts out of my mind but I was not certain that all of my precautions would keep my computer free of this terrible virus. Maybe I was going online too soon, I thought, and putting the entire network in danger of contamination. But I knew that I had taken all of the precautions touted by Fauci and Friends. After months of government mandated interpersonal outdoor social activities, I tried to believe that the Great Isolated Indoors were finally free from contagion, or at worst would only kill off old DOS and XP systems. We have “flattened the cord” by now, so I wasn’t endangering the world by participating in this mob transaction, was I? I went over my safety checklist one last time. No computers or other electronic equipment within six feet of any other. Check. A mask over the breaker box so that the virus could not get in through the electrical outlets. Check. Lysol glistening on the keys of the wireless keyboard just in case some of the tiny little critters slipped past the mask and somehow travel through the air rather than staying confined to electrical cords (experts are still contradicting themselves and other as to whether this virus is spread more through wires or wifi or bluetooth). Check. A full protective suit of plastic bags enclosing both the modem and the router. Check.
I took a deep breath and told myself that everything was going to be just fine. I was finally ready to step back into the world wide web by buying something--anything--on Amazon before somebody else could purchase it. As you can tell, though, I was nearly as worried as I was excited. My mind continued to race. What if my computer gets sick? Will it infect all of the others in the house? Am I putting the Geek Squad in danger unnecessarily just for the thrill of spending money on things I really don’t need? What if the virus lurks, unbeknownst to anyone, in the computer without doing any damage, and then one day, Bam! Bam! the government knocks on the door with a Norton Security Suite and detects that my machine is an asymptomatic carrier, contact traces all connected equipment, both those things physically present and those in the cloud, and quarantines every last thingamajiggy for two weeks or more? How could I live with myself should somebody in Nebraska have their fancy IoT toaster suddenly switch from “bagel mode” to “pop tart” after it connected to the same server in Utah that my DNS server possibly passed a few ones and zeros through? Maybe, I whined to myself, I should just curl up in bed and admit that the world will never go back to being connected, for even if a rushed computer vaccine is found to be safe and effective, the COVID might hack itself and bypass all antivirus measures in no time. I was truly torn about what to do.
In the end, I caved to my temptations to return to “normalcy” (i.e., virtual reality). I turned on the computer, clicked the mouse, and bought a reusable metal straw. Doggone it, if I am going to doom the planet, I will save it at the same time.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: All Souls Day Is Coming Soon
All Souls Day is coming up soon and it is time to get your list of the Faithful Departed ready to give me for prayers. All Saints, November 1, falls on a Sunday this year, so you don’t get the opportunity to take off of work on a weekday for this Holy Day of Obligation. Maybe that will make it easier for you to come on Monday for one of the (non-obligatory) All Souls Day Masses (6:30 and 8:00 am and 7:00 pm). At these Masses, we pray for the souls of our deceased loved ones so that if they are in Purgatory our sacrifices and offering may help alleviate their suffering, cleanse their souls, and allow them to enter without stain into Heaven. Type or write (legibly, please) your list and bring it in before the end of this month. I will pray for those souls at that day’s Masses and remember them at Masses through the rest of the month. Why pray for them? The Council of Trent explains (bold emphasis mine). “[T]he Catholic Church, instructed by the Holy Ghost, has, from the sacred writings and the ancient tradition of the Fathers, taught, in sacred councils, and very recently in this ecumenical Synod, that there is a Purgatory, and that the souls there detained are helped by the suffrages of the faithful, but principally by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar...” Not only does Purgatory exist (no, Vatican II did not “do away with it”) but of all the various prayers offered for the souls “there detained” it is the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass which is most beneficial. Of course, that means that the Mass for such souls must be done with all due reverence and devotion. “But let the bishops take care, that the suffrages of the faithful who are living, to wit the sacrifices of Masses, prayers, alms, and other works of piety, which have been wont to be performed by the faithful for the other faithful departed, be piously and devoutly performed, in accordance with the institutes of the church; and that whatsoever is due on their behalf, from the endowments of testators, or in other way, be discharged, not in a perfunctory manner, but diligently and accurately, by the priests and ministers of the church, and others who are bound to render this (service). Trent also offers this tidbit for any who hold the protestant notion that purgatory is not real. “If anyone says that after the grace of justification has been received the guilt is so remitted and the debt of eternal punishment so blotted out for any repentant sinner, that no debt of temporal punishment remains to be paid, either in this world or in the other, in purgatory, before access can be opened to the kingdom of heaven, anathema sit [“let him be anathema” or excommunicated].” So, believing what the Church teaches, write out your lists and get them to me!
Now I want to tell you how my “week off” went last week since so many of you have left messages, texts, and emails asking how I am doing as you state that you know that I am not answering messages, texts, and emails! Monday morning started off as normal with Masses and confessions and Adoration and blessing of objects at the church but I was back at the office by 11:00. Weekend and morning messages were waiting for me. I had three sick calls to make in three different cities in two different counties. That was going to take the rest of the day, so I managed to fit in two house blessings along the way as well, clearing up the remainder of the week, or so I thought. On Tuesday I managed to get out to see my dad for a couple of hours after the morning schedule but had to spend the rest of the afternoon answering emails from people in pretty bad spiritual crises. That evening I tried to get some dinner from a favorite hole-in-the-wall Caribbean take-out restaurant only to find that covid panic put them out of business. On Wednesday I had some more important emails to answer after the morning routine but decided to use a computer in my room rather than stay at the office so that I would not get sidetracked with other business. Bad decision. After the “necessary” emails were finished I opened some from the diocese and soon fell asleep in my chair. Three and a half hours later (unbelievable!) I woke up and had to get going, for I had a dinner date with my mom, and then the “day off” was over without it really ever seeming to have begun. Thursday there was a noon funeral and burial across the bay so I got done with just enough time to prepare for the Holy League Men’s Group. After the morning routine on Friday, I went to Jesuit High school and heard confessions until the end of the school day. Then it was back to the rectory to do laundry which had been piling up too long. Saturday morning brought once again the Mass, confessions, Adoration, and Adult Catechism class, followed by the Rosary Rally in the afternoon, and, finally, the Youth Group in the evening. Somewhere along the way I also had to write this article, which means that the last couple of days had to be written before they actually happened, so they might have actually been busier than what was on the calendar! So much for a “week off”! It’s a good thing I love my vocation!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Week Ahead
This is the first full week of October and you all know what that means: it is time for the Annual Diocesan Priest Convocation. Yes, that week when all of the priests get together and hear some lectures, share some stories, eat a lot of good food, pray a bit as a group, and generally enjoy each other’s company. It is also the week that I generally have a visiting priest come and give a parish mission and take over the Masses while I am at the convocation. So for the next few days you won’t be able to find any of us priests around... Oh, wait. I forgot. Covid. Drat! How could I have overlooked that pesky little virus? There is no Priest Convocation this year. Quite a few months ago the command decision was made to cancel it. And with travel restrictions and an ever-lengthening two week “straighten the curve” set of “guidelines” that somehow found more force than the law itself, the parish mission was canceled as well. So life will go on pretty much as normal around here this week. Or will it? After all, who really knows what “normal” is anymore when the “new normal” (wearing masks, avoiding people, bathing yourself in kerosene every five minutes, etc.) is being touted as something wonderful all the time?
You might have realized when you came into church this week that the “new normal” blue and green tape has been removed from the pews and floor. That is a result of the Bishop’s allowing us to follow the Governor’s elimination of occupancy restrictions. That does not mean that you should throw caution to the wind and start licking doorknobs (once again?), but it does mean that there is more flexibility in achieving your own sense of “safe space” in the church and hall. For now, I am keeping the social hall open for overflow during Mass, where you can arrange seats close or far from each other in the open space, while being “morally present” to the Mass which is being celebrated just feet from you although visible only via the monitor unless you have x-ray vision. You can hear it over the speaker system of the church as well. I will also keep the 1:00 pm additional Sunday Mass for now as we see how many people do or don’t rush back to the other Masses. “But Father!” I have heard the cries from so many people, “But Father! What about coffee and donuts?” Yes, that is a real issue. Not quite “the” real issue, but a real one nonetheless. All of the new people want to meet all of the regulars and vice versa. Old friends want to catch up and enjoy some time together. Everyone wants to get back to the old “normal” not just in the spiritual but also in the social aspects of the Church. Would you believe that there were no written guidelines sent to us from the Diocese about this so very important thing? So I have made a command decision. If restaurants can open full bore, so can we. Gathering for coffee and donuts is not mandated under any sort of obligation. Please use your common sense. Don’t cram into the hall like sardines. Grab a bite and sit outside at one of the many picnic tables, or stand under the oak trees chatting if the hall is crowded. Above all remember that if you are sick, if you have even the beginnings of symptoms of covid, stay home! One sure way of getting the churches closed down again is coming while contagious and spreading this darn thing throughout the congregation. Remember that even asymptomatic covid is counted as “killing grandma” in the headlines and official statistics, and the media is searching diligently to gloat about a superspreader event at a church. Don’t let that be us!
In other news, in case you didn’t catch the announcement last week, St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission is in the process of purchasing their own property and church in the Town and Country area of Tampa. Fr. Chien has told me that they expect to move out of Epiphany before Christmas. They have already started a very successful fundraising campaign and have further financing set up with the Diocese. They have the Bishop’s blessing. They are assessing the structural issues of the current buildings on the property which need to be fixed, rebuilt, or otherwise transformed into something usable for them. Some things might need to be fixed before they can move in, others might wait until later. The best-case scenario will be something like this: everything is functioning and there are no safety issues, so they can move right in and do simple repairs and upgrades and aesthetical work while already occupying and using the church and other buildings. But a more likely scenario is that they will have to do some work before they can move in while doing most of the work afterward. Only time will tell.
Speaking of time, I am looking forward to taking some time off. Since this whole week’s normal events were canceled, I plan on taking the “canceled” week off. Well, taking off whatever time is left after praying the breviary, celebrating the morning Masses, hearing confessions, giving the Benediction, blessing all the religious articles brought in, and then checking the mail, answering emails and texts, returning phone calls, writing bulletin articles, attending meetings, and doing all of the other little tasks that pop up. You know, that didn’t sound so restful once I put it down on paper. Sigh...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: More About Missals and Prayer Books
Last week I wrote about three Missals which are still being published today and used for the Traditional Latin Mass (the 1962 Missals from Angelus Press and Baronius Press and the Fr. Lasance 1945 Missal) plus one very simple-to-use English-only Missal (the 1963 or earlier St. Joseph Continuous Sunday Missal) that is not currently in print but can be found used online. There are other Missals available, though. I have on my shelf several small, pocket-sized Sunday Missals (that means that they don’t include any prayers or Scripture readings for the weekday Masses) that some of you might find handy. The first is titled, “My Sunday Missal explained by Father Stedman.” I actually have two different copies/versions of this small Missal. One is new and says on the cover “Larger type edition with new complete pulpit text of Epistles and Gospels.” Inside it claims to be “Two complete books in one. Complete Sunday Missal, all the Masses; Complete Novena Manual of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, all the novenas.” This is a reprint of the original 1938 Missal put out by the Confraternity of the Precious Blood but it doesn’t indicate who reprinted it and I don’t remember where I purchased it. I have a second, used, copy of the same Missal, which, though it doesn’t claim to be large print, has slightly larger print than the first one I just mentioned which makes that claim! This one claims to include “A simplified method of following the Mass” and also “A dialogue Mass.” Both books are basically the same. The “simplified” part means that they put numbers next to parts of the text where you have to flip to a different part of the book for the proper prayers and readings of the day. The “dialogue Mass” has an explanation that some people, like school children, want to do “Christian Action” so they are encouraged to say the parts of the Mass which are normally reserved for the altar boys. They put those responses in italics, assuming that the people who want to say words they don’t know wouldn’t know what words to say if not shown explicitly! Beyond that, it explains that “Sometimes another priest, or a public reader leads these responses in English, without any distraction to the Priest at the altar”! But it says that after stating that “The Dialogue Mass will keep you about three minutes longer than the regular Mass” which means that the “public leader” must be reading the responses more slowly than the priest and servers, so how that will not be a “distraction” is anyone’s guess. Without marketing it, the first book has the same italics and explanations as this one. They both have nearly identical prayers and novenas in the back pages of the book, too. I mention this because, if you are looking for one online, you probably cannot see it before buying it. Now that you know that they are basically interchangeable, if you want a tiny Missal you can just get the one in the best condition at the best price.
Although in describing Missals I mentioned my preference for Missals which include a good selection of prayers along with the actual Mass prayers, you may wish, instead, to get a prayer book with a Missal included. Nearly every old (pre-1964) prayer book includes a section for following the Mass. They only have the prayers and readings for Sundays and Holy Days, but if you cannot ever make it to daily Mass, one of these might be a good option for you. One big one which is still in print is titled, “Blessed be God.” I have a nice reprint of the 1925 version which, unfortunately again, does not include information on who reprinted it. But I do see that Preserving Christian Publications has a brand new version of this book which has a leather cover, which I find preferable to a hardcover for a Missal or prayerbook. Another great prayerbook is “A Manual of Prayers for the use of the Catholic Laity” which I have in the form of a great reprint from Roman Catholic Books (not currently available) under the title of “The Baltimore Book of Prayers.” This is an excellent prayer book and contains the Mass from 1889! You will find very few differences in the Missals of 1889, 1925, 1945, and 1962, so feel free to use any of the old Missals or prayer books you can find!
Cardinal Spellmans Prayerbook (1951, revised in 1955) is also a great prayerbook with a Sunday Missal. My copy is still very usable even though it was probably used regularly many decades ago. My version of the Catholic Extensionist Manual of Devotions (1931) is a pocket-sized and very worn book but is still quite a great prayer book for such a little thing. Lastly, I have a well-worn copy of the 1928 “Hail Holy Queen: A book of prayer and counsel for Catholic Girls and Women; the Roman Missal for Sundays” which, again, is an incredible prayer book plus Missal. Of course, the “counsel” this book gives to girls and women is far from politically correct today. Just one example: “A masculine woman is no less disgusting and repelling than a feminine man. Nobody wants to marry his own sex[!]”
These old prayer books (and there are countless others) put all the new ones to shame. Being used, most are fairly inexpensive when compared to a new Missal. So take your pick: A stand-alone Missal, a Missal/Prayerbook, or a Prayerbook/Missal. Whichever one works best for you!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Basics For Newcomers
We are growing at Epiphany! There are many new tongues sticking out at Communion time (that’s about all I see since I face Our Lord during most of the Mass instead of facing you!). “Newbies” often hesitate at the rail as they don’t know exactly what to do (kneel if physically possible, slightly tilt your head back and keep it still after opening your mouth and sticking out your tongue, keeping your hands out of the way of the paten which the altar boy will use to catch any stray Host or tiny Particles which may fall) or what to say (nothing at all, not even “amen”). I have written a bit more about the reception of Holy Communion in the Traditional Latin Mass (TLM) twice over the summer (July 5 and August 16 if you want to go online and read them) as I faced more and more people coming from Novus Ordo Masses who tried sticking their hands out, or saying “amen” as I was already putting the Host on their tongue (or immediately afterwards, with Him already in their mouth!) or bowing their head just as my hand got close, touching the Host with their nose or forehead and nearly knocking It out of my hand). And, while this reminder is, perhaps, once again timely, I have also heard the need to explain a bit more than just how to receive Holy Communion. Today, let’s look at Missals.
For instance, several of you have emailed me asking where to get a Missal and how to use it (“how” will have to be tackled another time). Locally you can find a new one at St. Anthony Bookstore, owned by a parishioner (find the address on the back of the bulletin). Of course, you may also look in used book stores or online for an old Missal once used by someone long ago. If you need many copies for your family, this option will, though more time consuming, save you a lot of money! Just make sure to get one for the 1962 (or earlier) Mass or it will do you no good! Before you buy anything, though, read what I recently wrote to someone wondering what to do for his first trip to a TLM. “First, congratulations on strengthening your Catholic Faith! Many people are finding that the "old ways" which have stood the test of time are worthy of dusting off and exploring once again. The Traditional Latin Mass converted the whole world without anyone knowing Latin or, for most of its history, having a written Missal to read, with Latin on one side and their own language on the other. They just experienced the Perfect Sacrifice of Christ on the Cross being made present once again, though in an unbloody manner, at Mass. They worshipped and adored Him Who died for their sins. I suggest that you do that very thing. If you wish, you may read the readings and prayers of the Mass at divinumofficium.com (scroll down on the first page of our parish website to find it) before coming but then, once here, simply watch and become enthralled with the solemnity and reverence of the Mass. You can bring your own Missal if you wish (ours are not out for use due to covid), but when you are new to the Mass, you will probably be lost and spend all of your time with your eyes on the book and you will miss most of the Mass. Later, after you get used to the Mass, you can ask anyone around you to help you find your way through the Missal. Don't worry about being the only one who is lost. Every one of the people around you was lost when they first discovered the TLM, too, including yours truly! Just be sure to not sit in the front pew, since you won't know when to sit, stand and kneel without being able to watch the people in front of you!”
I also wrote the following to a new parishioner asking about “which Missal is best.” “I like the Angelus Press 1962 Missal. It is also a great prayer book. The downside is that if a reading is printed for one feast day and used again on another, they don't print it again but rather tell you to turn to where it is printed elsewhere, making it a pain when there are multiple page turns. The Baronius Press 1962 Missal is about the same but is not as complete a prayer book. The Fr. Lasance 1945 Missal prints out all the readings where they are needed, so there are fewer ribbons needed to switch pages from one part to the other and it is thicker due to more pages being needed. But it is not nearly as good a prayer book, just a good Missal. Most of the Masses will be the same even though it is decades older, except for Holy Week and any newer saints. All three of those Missals have all of the Masses for weekdays as well as Sundays. But if you want a "Sunday Mass Missal for Dummies" type of Missal, find a used St. Joseph Continuous Sunday Missal. It does not have any weekday Masses in it but on Sundays everything is printed page by page exactly as you need it. Everything. Just turn the pages like a regular book all the way through the Mass. Just be sure to get one that is 1963 (the last printing of the old Missal) or earlier or it will not match up with the Mass.”
There are some of the basics. Perhaps I will write more in the following weeks.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Demonic Political Party Stances
Quite a few years back I wrote an article that I reprint during election cycles. It deals with political parties (note: without mentioning any in particular) and their members/voters. In the article I did not tell anyone who to vote for or against, yet in the past some were offended that I warned them of eternal consequences awaiting those who purposefully choose to support any party which champions intrinsic evil. So be it. Better to offend while teaching the Truth and perhaps saving souls than to make people feel good about voting/supporting their way to eternal damnation. The mainstream media is fully on board with many intrinsic evils and therefore skews news in a terribly partisan manner while still laughably claiming journalistic integrity, independence, and neutrality. Many prominent Catholic clergy have time and again proven themselves to be either faithless or too wimpy to address the “tough” issues. Social media moguls outright censor information they disagree with. You may, therefore, be “gaslighted” into thinking you are crazy if you actually (gasp) believe and act on real Catholic moral teaching. I want to assure you that the real crazies are those who think that they can turn their back on God’s commands and still please Him (or outfox him or at least be ignored by him) and get to Heaven by bypassing Him. Anyway, here is the article, which is as valid now as ever.
There are some businesses and “social organizations” that hold values so contrary to the Catholic Faith that no Catholic may belong to them. Such organizations could, perhaps, hold to other morally acceptable tenets and might even do some very good work but the evils they hold simply cannot be overlooked on account of the good. Along with that reality comes the logical correlation that if any member of such an organization were running for any public office, from dog catcher to mayor or even further up the scale, no Catholic may, with right conscience, vote for him/her, given other options.
A business example is Planned Parenthood. Many worldly people gush at the supposed “good” PP does while distributing cheap contraceptives and aborting babies but no Catholic could ever volunteer at or be employed by PP without cooperating in those mortal sins. Nor could any Catholic vote for, in any election or for any office, a PP employee or staunch supporter for the same reason, if there is an opponent who does not embrace intrinsic evil.
An example of a “social organization” of this ilk is the Ku Klux Klan. The KKK promotes hatred of Catholics, Jews, and Blacks. No Catholic could possibly claim membership in such a club nor could any Catholic vote for a member of the KKK if one were running for any political office, even if the member was a well-known philanthropist. Should a Catholic join the Klan with the explanation, “Well, I don’t agree with their stand on certain matters but they are a bunch of good guys most of the time with whom I simply enjoy getting together and sharing a few laughs. I leave the meetings when they go on a lynching so they know where I stand on that,” nobody would buy it. A Catholic would have to basically renounce his faith to either become a Klan member or support a Klan member in an election. It would not matter what his “conscience” told him or how much he “prayed” on it.
Whether brand new or generations old, if the organization’s charter puts it directly at odds with morality, especially if it officially endorses intrinsic evil, no Catholic should ever voluntarily become or remain a member once they understand what evil the organization holds out to be a “good.” Furthermore, no Catholic could, in good conscience, support a member of such a club or business in an election if a rival candidate, even if not preferable in areas open to prudential judgment, could be found who did not endorse intrinsic evil. Because this seems to me to be so very clear, it baffles me that seemingly nobody in authority in the Catholic Church will tell Catholics that same truth when it comes to organizations that are much more powerful than mere social clubs or even influential businesses: political parties.
If the Knights of Columbus, a well established Catholic organization, wrote a new platform promoting embryonic stem cell research, homosexual “marriage” and abortion, no matter what else was in their charter, and regardless of their stellar past history, no priest or bishop would hesitate to tell all Catholic men to renounce their membership immediately and forbid any Catholic from joining the group, for their very souls would be in grave danger. Yet political parties have vastly more importance in the lives of us all than the K of C. How any Catholic can even belong to a political party whose platform currently holds out as “good” those just-mentioned grave evils is beyond my understanding. How any Catholic can justify supporting any candidate who belongs to such a political party is as bewildering as a Catholic supporting a KKK member or a PP director. Those who participate in or cooperate with mortal sin and die unrepentant do not go to Heaven but rather face “the eternal death of hell” (see the Catechism of the Catholic Church, especially paragraphs 1852-1869). All other political positions and means for achieving peace, prosperity, and the common good are for nought if salvation is lost. For what shall it profit a man, if he gain the whole world, and suffer the loss of his soul? Pray for the conversion of politicians and voters and for holy boldness among the clergy.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Our Lady of Good Health
This coming Tuesday, September 8, a day on which both the Novus Ordo and the Traditional Latin Mass liturgical calendars are in sync (although the prayers and scripture readings differ), is the feast of the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Logically enough, the celebration of her birth falls nine months after the celebration of her Immaculate Conception on December 8. This same date is also a special feast on a local Catholic liturgical calendar in India. It is the feast of Our Lady of Good Health.
I had never heard of the apparition of Our Lady under this title until sometime around 2012 when a holy Religious Sister from India introduced me to it. I have worn a medal of Our Lady of Good Health ever since and I call on her for protection against colds, flu, and now the covid virus. She has blessed me with such graces of health that I have never since been too sick to celebrate Mass, a good thing since I have not had an associate pastor during all this time! The internet can reveal more information than I can give here but I will give you a short version of the apparition to whet your appetite. I will shamelessly copy and paste directly from the website of the church of the apparition, velankannichurch.com.
Sometime during the sixteenth century, Our Lady with her infant son appeared to a Hindu boy carrying milk to a customer’s home. While he rested under a Banyan tree near a tank (pond), Our Lady appeared to him and asked for milk for her Son and the boy gave her some. On reaching the customer’s home, the boy apologized for his lateness and the reduced amount of milk by relating the incident that occurred on his way. On inspection, the man found the milk pot to be full and realized that something miraculous had happened. That man, also a Hindu, wanting to see the place where the apparition occurred, accompanied the boy. When they reached the tank, Our Lady appeared once again. On learning that it was Our Lady who appeared to the boy, the residents of the local Catholic community became ecstatic. The tank where the apparition took place is called "Matha Kulam" or Our Lady’s tank.
Some years later Our Lady appeared again. This time to a crippled boy who was selling buttermilk near a public square on the outskirts of the same village of Vailankanni. She asked him for buttermilk for her infant Son and the boy complied. Our Lady asked the boy to inform a certain wealthy Catholic man in the nearby town of Nagapattinam of her appearance. Not realizing that his crippled leg was miraculously cured by Our Lady, the boy rose up and began his journey. The man also had a vision the previous night in which Our Lady asked him to build a chapel for her. Together, the man and the boy returned to the site of the miracle.
This time Our Lady appeared to both. The man erected a thatched chapel for Our Lady at the site of Her second appearance. This chapel became a holy place of veneration to Our Blessed mother and She was called henceforth, Mother of Good Health ("Arokia Matha").
A few years later, Our Merciful Mother rescued a few Portuguese merchant sailors from a violent storm, which wrecked their ship. When the merchants reached the shore of Vailankanni they were taken by local fisherman to the thatched chapel. To give thanks and pay tribute to Our Lady, they built a small permanent chapel on their return trip. On subsequent visits they improved on it. The merchants dedicated the chapel to Our Lady on September 8th to celebrate the feast of her nativity and to mark the date of their safe landing to Vailankanni.
If you go to the above-mentioned website you will find much more information about the feast (the celebration actually starts August 29 and continues through the actual feast day). You can also see the chronology of the church building as it progressed from a tiny little chapel to a majestic shrine basilica. A novena to Our Lady of Velankanni (as She is also known), photos, prayer requests and personal testimonies are also just a click away. Strangely (or not?), not a word of covid is mentioned on the site.
The following day, September 9, another beautiful feast, though not on any liturgical calendar whatsoever, is celebrated in both Novus Ordo and Traditional Latin Mass parishes, namely, “Buy a Priest a Beer Day.” Notice that it is not called, “Buy your own Priest a Beer Day”, so feel free to buy one for just about any priest you wish. I would bet that even the Eastern Rite priests you know would appreciate you dropping off a beer or quaffing (a word I seldom get to use) one with them. If you buy one for a Traditional priest, I suggest a full-bodied, flavorful dark beer such as a stout or porter, whereas for a Novus Ordo priest a more fitting choice might be something light and fruity. (Chuckle or wince or groan, whichever you prefer!)
Along similar lines, remember, men, that the Holy League is resuming our “2nd and 4th Thursdays” meeting schedule the day after that, on Thursday, September 10, at 6:00 pm. Come for some manly prayers, catechesis, and camaraderie. If any of you don’t know what this is, just come and find out, even if you will be running late after work.
Holy Mary, Our Lady of Good Health, Our Lady of Velankanni, pray for us.
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Covid Infection Rate Of Just .77?
Last week I was reading a news article about New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy chastising his people for not fully participating in “contact tracing” for covid. Evidently 52% of his people who might have maybe been possibly in the presence of someone who may or may not have covid refused to give the government a list of all of the places they have been and the people with whom they have been in contact for the prior two weeks or more so that they and everyone they implicate in those answers will then be forced to “voluntarily” self-quarantine for an additional two weeks after the others also produce their own list of contacts. Go figure. “It is highly disturbing, to say the least” he is quoted as saying, while I find it highly disturbing that his government is trying to shame people into revealing such personal information. This comes on the heels of the governor of Ohio and dozens of professional athletes being told that their tests came back positive for covid, only to find, through a different test or closer examination of the same test, that it was only a false positive. (Of course, those “important” people were able to get nearly immediate results from their covid tests and were only in panic mode for one day or less before they got the desired but not necessarily any more accurate negative results, whereas “real” people often have to wait longer than the recommended quarantine length of days to find out if they tested positive or negative and never get the chance to verify if it was an accurate diagnosis either way.) But there was something in the article which caught my eye and which I don’t remember ever hearing about from any source before. The following two sentences made me say, “hmmm...!”
“It also could explain why New Jersey has had a hard time recently in keeping its transmission rate below 1.0, which is considered too high. That means every person with the coronavirus is spreading the disease, on average, to at least one other person.”
Did you know that the transmission rate of this pandemic virus in coronavirus hotbed New Jersey is below 1? I hear news stories constantly that indicate that each person infected with covid is responsible for dozens, perhaps hundreds, of new cases and deaths! A quick search shows the following news stories: One single person in a meeting in Boston resulted in more than 99 covid cases in Massachusetts alone; One covid positive person at a Georgia funeral resulted in more than 100 infections and several deaths; An Arkansas pastor infected 30 churchgoers including 3 who died; 23 Clemson football players got it from one person; the list could go on and on. As I pointed out in a recent bulletin article (August 2) the slant in the news is fomenting fear and outright panic as if every person with covid will infect dozens, if not hundreds, of other people, and (insert scream of horror, shame, and guilt here) kill everyone’s grandma. But this New Jersey article about how bad the people are behaving by not disclosing where they have been for weeks, who they have spoken with, which restaurants and stores they have entered, which form of transportation they have taken, and so much more that the contact tracers demanded that they reveal, tells us that, on average, each covid-ill person has spread it to less than one other person!
I wanted, of course, to see how many others we Florida covid-ill grandma killers infect. I knew that it must be far and away a larger number, since we are all (at least in this area) forced to wear masks, cannot visit loved ones in nursing homes or enter hospitals for sick calls, and restaurants still cannot serve more than a minuscule number of masked and isolated customers. Surely we must be the ones infecting dozens and hundreds if we so much as think about coughing! But no, as of August 27, Florida has an “infection rate” or “transmission rate” of just .77! Here is a “brain teaser” puzzle for anyone reading this. If 80% of all covid cases come from so-called “super spreader” individuals (a google search shows this to be the statistic) and the average Floridian (including those in the 80% statistic) passes on covid to slightly more than 3/4 of a person (that is, for every four infected people, only three more will get the virus), then, in reality, the chances of a Floridian with covid passing on the virus to even one person is X. Solve for X. The number must be very small.
During the 2 weeks that a person could be (will be! according to the panic-inducing news media) highly infectious he/she may have gone to church two Sundays (extra days if a daily communicant), gone to the grocery store even more often, visited (in close contact for extended periods of time) family and friends, gone out to eat, exercised near others, etc., yet, although you would think from news stories that that person would have infected everyone in each building or within sight while outside during every single one of those encounters, he/she most likely has not, according to statistics (not pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking), made even one other person sick! If anyone solves the above problem, please let me know and I will put the X number in on our webpage. If I am not thinking this through properly, let me know that as well, for I will need to correct my false inferences.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A/C and Other Information
This week’s news; good or bad, you decide. You all have been very busy getting in touch with your favorite airconditioning companies and at this time we are inundated with technicians crawling around in our attic. Thank you very much! None of them have so far been able to give us a written quote, though, because this is a much bigger job than we first expected. The old compressor units definitely have to be replaced, which we already knew, since they use the old freon refrigerant, which is now illegal to use. But along with replacing the compressors, the air handler, too, needs to be replaced. It takes up a very large chunk of real estate in the church attic and most likely was manufactured up there, as it is too large to be taken out through any of the openings to the attic. It is set up for freon, too, obviously, but also uses an old Westinghouse motor, the likes of which are no longer in production. That huge motor, by the way, is what produces the loud humming sound that can be heard in the church even though it is on the far top side of the social hall! The electrical box also fails to meet current codes (things have changed since the 60’s!), so it needs to be replaced. And, while we are at it, the old boiler, which is our heating system, will probably be removed (it fails multiple times each winter and boiler technicians are more scarce than hens’ teeth) and heat strips installed in the A/C units, something unusual of when this old boiler was installed. The A/C techs, therefore, have to get multiple specialized people together to figure out how to bring this all together. I will let you know what they come up with but be prepared for a large estimate.
Fortunately, St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission helps us with expenses like this since they share the property. Or, maybe not. Fr. Chien has given me permission to announce that they are planning on moving out of Epiphany and into their own church building! They are raising funds for the purchase of an existing Lutheran church in the Town and Country area of Tampa. They have a contract on the property but are awaiting final approval from the Diocese. The diocesan finance committee doesn’t meet until the end of next month but everything so far looks like they will grant approval for the purchase and move. Please pray for them as this is a huge step for them and the first time that they will not be “renting” space from another parish but rather taking on full responsibility for their own church.
As we look toward the near future, our Catholic schools will be opening up this Monday, August 24. We don’t have a school anymore so we are not directly affected by that but I am using it as a sign that other groups at the parish level can re-start as well. The Saturday morning Adult Cathechism class will resume on Saturday, September 5 from 10:30 - 12:00 noon. That is 30 minutes later than before but we have such a long line for confessions on Saturday mornings that the old 10:00 start time simply is no longer feasible. We may have to meet in the church to keep being anti-socially distant from each other if everyone who used to attend comes back, plus we may get some new faces! For those of you new to the parish, this class is simply an on-going explanation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We go through a few paragraphs or a few pages each week, depending on how much detail I get into and how many questions there are, and simply pick up each week where we left off the last time. The classes are recorded and the Unknown Church Gremlin posts them online so you can listen to any past lessons or any that you miss. You need to bring in your own copy of the Catechism, but there is no charge for the class. Even so, I offer a double your money back guarantee that you will enjoy the class and learn while you are there. Simply come whenever you can and don’t come when you can’t.
The Holy League men’s group will also begin meeting once again on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, beginning at 6:00 pm on September 10. I will give the following information for the sake of the new members of the parish. It is for men only. We begin at 6:00 in the church with Adoration and confessions. Most men cannot get here right at 6, but don’t fret if your workplace is not close. Come when you can make it. Men trickle in during this prayer time and then, after Benediction, we move to the social hall for a teaching about the Faith. We are currently nearing the end of the Catechism of St. Pius X, which can be found online for free or purchased in book form for about ten dollars. After that we have social time, which we will have to figure out how to make work while remaining anti-socially distant from each other. This social time with other men who also want to be saints is extremely important. Libations, cigars, and sometimes food has been available, to be freely indulged in or avoided as each man sees fit.
Finally, be sure to sign up to Flocknote (how we communicate via email or text) and register with the parish if you have not yet done so.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Tutorial on Receiving Holy Communion
If the following article seems strangely familiar to you, congratulations! You actually read it less than two months ago! I usually don’t re-run articles for at least a few years, but this helpful tutorial just ran over the 4th of July weekend and I see that I need to run it again. It really is helpful for the person receiving Our Lord to know how to do so properly as well as being very helpful for the one distributing Holy Communion when everyone knows what to do.
This is either a reminder or a tutorial on how to -- and how not to -- receive Holy Communion at a Traditional Latin Mass. It is a reminder for those who have been attending for a while and a tutorial for all of the new people, whom we are welcoming by the busload, it seems! Due to the covid “condition red” we are experiencing, there are a few guidelines from the diocese to which we must adhere. First of all, by now everyone knows the drill about staying 6 feet away from everyone who is not in your household. The lines in the aisles are reminders of how great a distance that is and we ask you to stay back from the person in front of you in the Communion line. Of course, you don’t have to stay away from your family members, so everyone else sees you bunched up like a normal family going up to Communion during normal times, and they have a tendency to revert to normalcy as well. How can I put this? We are asked to refrain from being normal in oh, so many ways! Stay back! Have some fun with it. Bring a six foot stick and... no, no, no, not at Mass. Leave that for the grocery store. Ok, so you have now approached the front of the church and there is an altar rail, or Communion rail, in use. Please be anti-social there as well. It is permitted to kneel down together as a family, you know, side by side as if you like each other, but leave a gap between you and any non-family member who is already kneeling at the rail. I know, you don’t breath out of your ears, so it seems silly to have to stay away from people to your side when “they” claim that the anti-social distancing is to keep you from breathing virus globs into other people’s eyes, nose, and mouth, but then they also want you to avoid what? Ear to ear infections? Or perhaps they are worried that there are aliens among us with breathing apparatus on the side instead of in front. Laugh at it if you will, but then just do it.
If you cannot kneel due to physical infirmity, don’t panic. Stand at the rail and I will still give you Holy Communion. Or, if you are in a wheelchair, come to one end or the other and I can easily step down to give you Our Lord. Holy Communion is distributed from the priest’s left to right and he will be accompanied by an altar boy holding a paten. I will hold the Host before you and give you a blessing. While I am doing that, tilt your head slightly back, open your mouth and stick out your tongue slightly past your bottom lip. Don’t stick your tongue out all the way unless you can keep it straight instead of reaching down toward the floor à la Gene Simmons of the old rock band, Kiss. There is no safe way to place a host on a tongue which is pointed downward. You do not say “amen” or “howdy Father” or anything else as you do at the Novus Ordo Mass. Please don’t wait until the Host comes close to your mouth before you open up and reach out with your tongue. People who do that usually also lunge forward with a licking motion. If you stay silent and still and already have your mouth open and tongue slightly out, you will not lick me. If you are a “licker” you will lick the back of either my index finger or thumb. That doesn’t normally affect anyone else, since I grab the next Hosts with the dry pad side of my thumb and finger, but the next “licker” will get a mouthful of whatever you put on my fingernail, and if there was a licker before you, you got what s/he left behind! Seriously, though, don’t speak or lick or lunge. It’s been a long time since I have been licked, but some of you give my reflexes a workout!
When kneeling it is quite natural to keep your hands folded with palms together in front of your breast but please don’t do that at the altar rail. The paten must go under your chin to catch the Host or particles of the Host that may fall. If your fingers are in the way, the paten cannot do its job. Also, if you wear a mask, please, for the same reason, don’t leave the mask under your chin. The mask is supposedly only protecting others if you have the coronavirus and if you do, the virus will be concentrated on the mask, which then gets transferred to the paten when it touches it, which then passes it on down the line to every other mask or fingers that get in the way and, finally, to the priest as he purifies it. So please take your mask off completely before receiving Our Lord. And that’s enough for today’s lesson.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Special Blessings on the Assumption
This coming Saturday, August 15, we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Of historical value is a special blessing given that day to herbs, fruit, grain, and other produce. This blessing takes place in the church before Mass begins and is done, of course, in Latin. The Sancta Missa website includes this helpful explanation: This blessing comes from Germany, and formulas for it are found as early as the tenth century. The blessing of herbs was reserved only to the feast of the Assumption. Herbs had not our restricted English meaning but included all kinds of cultivated and wild flowers, especially those which in some way had a symbolic relation to our Lady. The people brought herbs to church on her feast not only to secure for themselves another blessed object, but also to make of the occasion a harvest festival of thanksgiving to God for His great bounty manifested in the abundant fruits of the earth. The herbs were placed on the altar, and even beneath the altarcloths, so that from this close contact with the Eucharist they might receive a special consecration, over and above the ordinary sacramental blessing of the Church.
Below is a slightly abbreviated English translation of the blessings I will bestow upon all such produce brought to the church before Mass that day. You may note that the blessing asked for (and therefore given by God, for He gives what is asked) includes “healing of sick bodies” and “keep[ing] away disease and adversity” as well as being “a protection against diabolical mockery, cunning, and deception” which things are truly desired and needed during these pandemic and demonic times! Note also that the blessings extend also to the animals who will use/eat them and are even powerful when the produce is simply “kept, carried, or otherwise used” before or instead of being eaten! So, for physical and spiritual health in this life as assistance in getting into Heaven, bring your herbs and fruit next week!
BLESSING OF HERBS on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord. All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: Lord, heed my prayer. All: And let my cry come unto you.
P: The Lord be with you. All: And with your spirit.
P. Let us pray. Almighty everlasting God, who by your word alone brought into being the heavens, earth, sea, things seen and things unseen, and garnished the earth with plants and trees for the use of man and beast; who appointed each species to bring forth fruit in its kind, not only for the food of living creatures, but for the healing of sick bodies as well; with mind and word we urgently call on you in your great kindness to bless ✠ these various herbs and fruits, thus increasing their natural powers with the newly given grace of your blessing. May they keep away disease and adversity from men and beasts who use them in your name; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.
P. Let us pray. God, who through Moses, your servant, directed the children of Israel to carry their sheaves of new grain to the priests for a blessing, to pluck the finest fruits of the orchard, and to make merry before you, the Lord their God; hear our supplications, and shower blessings ✠ in abundance upon us and upon these bundles of new grain, new herbs, and this assortment of produce which we gratefully present to you on this festival, blessing ✠ them in your name. Grant that men, cattle, flocks, and beasts of burden find in them a remedy against sickness, pestilence, sores, injuries, spells, against the fangs of serpents or poisonous creatures. May these blessed objects be a protection against diabolical mockery, cunning, and deception wherever they are kept, carried, or otherwise used. Lastly, through the merits of the blessed Virgin Mary, whose Assumption we are celebrating, may we all, laden with the sheaves of good works, deserve to be taken up to heaven; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.
Let us pray. God, who on this day raised up to highest heaven the rod of Jesse, the Mother of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that by her prayers and patronage you might communicate to our mortal nature the fruit of her womb, your very Son; we humbly implore you to help us use these fruits of the soil for our temporal and everlasting welfare, aided by the power of your Son and the prayers of His glorious Mother; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.
P. And may the blessing of almighty God, Father, ✠ Son, and Holy Spirit, come upon these creatures and remain always. All: Amen.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Not Denying Virus, Decrying Lies
This week I read a supposed news article put out by News Channel 8. The small headline was simply “BY THE NUMBERS” in all caps, followed by the real headline three times as large, “How likely are you to contract* coronavirus in Tampa Bay crowds?” I am going to print most of the article below minus all but Hillsborough County data. Note that has been updated once at the time I write this. After you read it, I will comment a bit more on something that should have been caught and corrected by the writer or the editor the first time or, at the very least, should have been corrected in the update. It is so blatantly wrong and repeated so often that it could only be put there on purpose in order to bring even more hysteria to the readers.
Posted: Jul 28, 2020 / 04:04 PM EDT / Updated: Jul 29, 2020 / 08:30 AM EDT
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — How great is your risk of contracting* COVID-19 in a crowd in the Tampa Bay area? As most businesses in the state reopen and coronavirus cases continue to surge in Florida, that’s the question many want to know. Scientists in Georgia now have a database to assess the risk of contracting* coronavirus after attending events of various sizes. The database assesses the risk for every county in the country. Using public health data, researchers with the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology developed the interactive map to account for widespread gaps in U.S. testing for the coronavirus. The virus can easily spread between people who display mild or no symptoms of illness. Risk assessments change daily, but WFLA.com took a look at the risk of contracting* coronavirus in the Tampa Bay area counties as of Tuesday, July 28.
Risk with 10 people: 41%
Risk with 50 people: 93%
...[I]n assessing the risk of events with at least 100 people – such as a concert or wedding – the database found residents of most Tampa Bay area counties had at least a 99% risk of becoming ill* with coronavirus. “The issue of understanding risks associated with gatherings is even more relevant as many kinds of businesses, including sports and universities, are considering how to reopen safely,” said Professor Joshua Weitz from the School of Biological Sciences.
OK, now back to my commentary. According to this article and based on its statistical numbers, every single person in our parish should have already contracted the coronavirus many times over while at our church, while at the grocery store, and while at the XYZ YOUNAMEIT place. Yet that hasn’t happened. How could the numbers be so far off? I clicked through to the Georgia database this story is supposedly based on and discovered something that was easy enough to spot. It wasn’t small print. It wasn’t written in a foreign language. It wasn’t typed out in code. It couldn’t have been missed by anyone with journalist credentials or even a 5th grade reading and comprehension level. Therefore I have to conclude that it was seen, understood, and completely twisted for the purpose of causing panic in those who are already stressed out about the coronavirus. Here are the first two written sentences of the database page. “This map shows the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location. The risk level is the estimated chance (0-100%) that at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present at an event in a county, given the size of the event.” Did you see it? These data are showing the risk that one person in the crowd could be sick with covid. NOT the percent chance of people getting sick. WFLA indicated above at least 6 times (I marked them with *) that the data were showing, and I quote from the opening sentence, “your risk of contracting COVID-19 in a crowd”. Yes, YOUR risk (scared you, right?) of contracting the virus, not the risk that one person out of that crowd might be infected with the virus! Is this a big deal? You betcha. Even if one person is infected in the crowd, you may not be anywhere close to him, may not touch any surface he has touched, may not breathe any air he has breathed. It may very well be that absolutely NOBODY will get sick from that one statistical person in the crowd. But that is not a scary story. YOU WILL DIE IF YOU GO TO A WEDDING is a scary story. But it is not a true story. (Oops, it rather indicates that each person attending a wedding with 100 people has a 99% chance of becoming ill of this disease so deadly that we have had many of our moral and civil rights taken away. I don’t want to be accused of exaggerating here!)
This is not an isolated example. They are, to put it biblically, Legion. Is it any wonder that thinking people are so skeptical of our “unbiased” media, our tyrannical politicians, and our “experts” of all sorts? Is it any wonder that they look at such things as “mask mandates”, wherein millions of people in this area have been forced to wear masks in public places for six weeks now with no subsequent drop in covid “cases” that have an incubation period of 2 weeks maximum, and doubt those who say that masks are effective? Ask the Boy Who Cried Wolf where constant public lies will get you even when you finally tell the truth.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Helping Fellow Parishioners
During the midst of this covid panic, the economy has taken quite a hit. Anyone who owns a large corporation that was deemed “essential” (including our governments, local and national) has no worries about it since they are thriving. The Mom & Pop businesses, though, were deemed worthless and have been forced to close, have had unsustainable restrictions forced upon them if they were able to reopen for an undetermined amount of time before the next closure, and have generally been put through the wringer. Many have been destroyed and many more are struggling to survive. But have you noticed that as I have been writing about this, that actual people have not been referenced? Yet for every business that gets mentioned, many, many real people have their livelihood at stake. I am not writing about some theoretical cosmic goo called “business” but rather about rea- life shops, corporations, and institutions which somebody or many somebodies (real people) worked hard to devise, to build, to manage, and to make successful. Each business employs real people with real needs who do real work for real recompense. Until they are deemed worthless, that is. I know, the word “worthless” was not used directly, but it was surely implied. There were seemingly only two types of businesses addressed by the politicians as they separated those that would stay open and those that would be forced to close. The “open” or “essential” businesses were the ones the politicians owned or the ones which owned the politicians. The “closed” or “non-essential” (worthless) businesses were the ones they were not relying on for re-election. If I am wrong on this or if their calculations were incorrect on this, the politicians who closed the majority of small businesses will all be voted out of office this fall. If I am correct, the incumbents will, by and large, retain their seats even though they have destroyed livelihoods, degraded the majority of hard-working people, inflicted grave harm on countless families, and basically ruled as tyrannical kings and queens. We shall see.
But this article is not specifically about the political evil which we are still experiencing. That was just a starting point to remind you that real people had their lives disrupted. Real people who need to pay their rent or mortgage, who need to feed themselves and their children, who need to keep their health insurance, who need to, well, support themselves and their families. And some of those real people are among us right now. I have heard from and prayed for a number of parishioners whom I believe to be very competent in their field of work who have lost their jobs during this time of economic turmoil and fear. I have offered encouragement to them when they were getting down and congratulations when they have gotten new jobs. I have even (with the help of other parishioners who know how to do such things) helped a couple find temporary assistance when things got really bad. But recently, as yet another parishioner said that he lost his job, I retorted with a smart aleck remark that I should start putting notices in the church bulletin to see if other parishioners might be hiring. Catholics helping fellow Catholics when the need was great, after all, is how the Knights of Columbus got their start, so maybe this is not a bad idea at all. I am not sure the best way to put this out in a church bulletin but I am willing to give it a go and see how it works.
The man I made the comment to is Alex Folkerts. You know him from the choir and from chanting the 6:30 am Mass several times a week. But he is also a computer programmer. I don’t know what exactly that means so I asked him to give me a few sentences to pass on. “I'm a seasoned, full-stack developer working in Agile software development with 6 years experience with Java, 6 years C# .NET, 3 years React.js, and 6 years Microsoft SQL. I've developed several key features in my previous position, developed multiple cross-product integrations, developed and enhanced REST apis, and implemented full unit and integration testing from the front end to the back end.” I still don’t know what he does, but if any of that makes sense to you and you need his skills, or if you know someone who may be hiring such a programmer, please let him know. Contact me if you don’t know how to reach Alex.
You might also know the Smith family (five children visible and one on the way). The husband/father manages a Lakeland print shop (https://mailpro.org/) which is struggling right now because families, neighborhoods, and businesses have not been able to engage in normal activities, many of which ordinarily require printed materials such as business cards, flyers, brochures, booklets, postcards, wedding invitations, and whatnot. If you have any printing needs, you might consider using his business over one of the big box stores.
I am sure there are others reading this right now who might also benefit from a bulletin mention. If so, send me a few lines about what you do, your skills, etc. and I will get it into future bulletins. If you are in a position of hiring, you know that an active Catholic’s work ethic, based on Catholic morality, will be (or should be, at least) better than your average Joe Sixpack. Plus, they have to face you at all parish functions, so they know they better do right by you!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka