He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: The Lord’s Birth is Near!
The following passage, snipped a little to fit the bulletin, is taken from The City of God, a book of visions experienced by Venerable Mary of Agreda. She is recounting the Holy Family’s last day of travel to Bethlehem a few hours before Our Lord’s Birth. One thing that struck me this year as I read it again is that even the cave they stayed at in Bethlehem was not offered by any relative but was only “discovered” due to a vague memory of St. Joseph. Beyond being told “There is no room at the Inn”, they were not even offered the stable! Enjoy this snippet of Venerable Mary of Agreda’s mystical vision.
460. The heavenly Lady [Mary] observed and knew the secrets of the different souls of those She met, penetrating into the very thoughts and conditions of each, whether of grace or of guilt in their different degrees. Concerning many souls She also knew whether they were predestined or reprobate, whether they would persevere, fall, or again rise up. All this variety of insight moved Her to the exercise of heroic virtues as well in regard to the ones as to the others. For many of them She obtained the grace of perseverance, for others efficacious help to rise from their sin to grace; for others again She prayed to the Lord with affectionate tears, feeling intensest sorrow for the reprobate, though She did not pray as efficaciously for them... The sick, afflicted and indigent whom She met on the way, She consoled and assisted by asking her most holy Son to come to their aid in their necessities and adversities. She kept Herself silently aloof from the multitude, preoccupied with the Fruit of her divine pregnancy, which was already evident to all. Such was the return which the Mother of mercy made for the inhospitality of mortals...
462... [O]ur travelers arrived at the town of Bethlehem at four o'clock of the fifth day, a Saturday. As it was at the time of the winter solstice, the sun was already sinking and the night was falling. They entered the town, and wandered through many streets in search of a lodging-house or inn for staying overnight. They knocked at the doors of their acquaintances and nearer family relations; but they were admitted nowhere and in many places they met with harsh words and insults. The most modest Queen followed her spouse through the crowds of people, while he went from house to house and from door to door. Although She knew that the hearts and the houses of men were to be closed to them, and although to expose her state at her age to the public gaze was more painful to her modesty than their failure to procure a night-lodging, She nevertheless wished to obey saint Joseph and suffer this indignity and unmerited shame. While wandering through the streets they passed the office of the public registry and they inscribed their names and paid the fiscal tribute in order to comply with the edict and not be obliged to return. They continued their search, betaking themselves to other houses. But having already applied at more than fifty different places, they found themselves rejected and sent away from them all. The heavenly spirits were filled with astonishment at these exalted mysteries of the Most High, which manifested the patience and meekness of his Virgin Mother and the unfeeling hardness of men...
463. It was nine o'clock at night when the most faithful Joseph, full of bitter and heartrending sorrow, returned to his most prudent Spouse and said: "My sweetest Lady, my heart is broken with sorrow at the thought of not only not being able to shelter Thee as Thou deservest and as I desire, but in not being able to offer Thee even any kind of protection from the weather, or a place of rest, a thing rarely or never denied to the most poor and despised in the world. No doubt heaven, in thus allowing the hearts of men to be so unmoved as to refuse us a night-lodging, conceals some mystery. I now remember, Lady, that outside the city walls there is a cave, which serves as a shelter for shepherds and their flocks. Let us seek it out; perhaps it is unoccupied, and we may there expect some assistance from heaven, since we receive none from men on earth." The most prudent Virgin answered: "My spouse and my master, let not thy kindest heart be afflicted because the ardent wishes which the love of thy Lord excites in thee cannot be fulfilled. Since I bear Him in my womb, let us, I beseech thee, give thanks for having disposed events in this way. The place of which thou speakest shall be most satisfactory to me. Let thy tears of sorrow be turned into tears of joy, and let us lovingly embrace poverty, which is the inestimable and precious treasure of my most holy Son. He came from heaven in order to seek it, let us then afford Him an occasion to practice it in the joy of our souls; certainly I cannot be better delighted than to see thee procure it for me. Let us go gladly wherever the Lord shall guide us." The holy angels accompanied the heavenly pair, brilliantly lighting up the way, and when they arrived at the city gate they saw that the cave was forsaken and unoccupied. Full of heavenly consolation, they thanked the Lord for this favor, and then happened what I shall relate in the following chapter.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Physical and Spiritual Handicap Door Openers
Last week you saw the framework for the new handicap ramp leading into the church and social hall. This week you can see that the concrete has been poured and is setting up. Perhaps by next weekend we will be given the green light to use the new ramp and steps. So the next step is to get the doors fixed up. So far we have not had any suggestions for which companies to use (or to stay away from!) so we are probably just going to have to randomly choose a number of door companies or handicap specialty shops to come by and give us a quote. Once we have expert advice as to what should be done and what needs to be done, I will be able to let you know what the cost will be. Already, though, several parishioners have stepped forward with donations specifically for the new doors and door openers. Thank you for your great generosity!
One of the nicest things about the new ramp is the visible problem which is visibly solved. People with wheelchairs previously had no choice but to go around the church to enter by means of the ramp which was as far from the handicap parking spots as possible. Visitors had an especially difficult time even finding our crazy access. Those with walkers or canes, for the most part, couldn’t make the long walk around the building to access the ramp, so everyone saw them struggle to get up and down the stairs on a regular basis. They were the visible reminders that we had a problem that needed to be solved. Everyone was constantly afraid that some frail and/or elderly parishioner would fall down the steps. Many prayers were silently prayed for their safety! But what about the invisible needs? During these last days of Advent, I hope you will consider that there are many other needs, some of which are much more important than the physical challenge of getting into a church building, which Our Lord may be asking us to find solutions to as well. I will mention two such things. First of all, how many of our parishioners might be alone for Christmas, with no family or friends to share the day? They generally won’t tell anyone that they will be alone so it is difficult to see the need. You might feel silly asking someone, even if you know them to be a widow or widower, if they need a place to go for a family celebration of Christmas, afraid that you will hurt their feelings if they have plenty of family and friends around but you forgot or never heard that part of their life’s story. You might not even know how to ask, assuming that any “outsiders” from church might feel out of place if your family is opening presents and they, being invited to join you at the last minute, have no gifts to give or receive. But maybe, just maybe, you will help someone with an invisible handicap called “loneliness” if you work up the courage and love to ask them to join you and your family for Christmas. Look around. Check your memories. Is there a new, young couple in town who might be missing extended family for the first time? Is there a man who lost his job and is struggling to put together a feast for his wife and kids? Is there an older couple whose kids and grandchildren are scattered through various states and who would actually love to put up with your little ones running around making a mess? Maybe you could invite them to join you for Christmas! Build the friendship ramp!
Another invisible need might not be found so easily, yet is even more important to fix. How many of you have neighbors and/or coworkers who have left the Faith? Perhaps they seem to be doing well, have a good job or are enjoying retirement, have good health, a nice family, maybe even a better car and house than you, yet have turned away from God and His Church. To them, Christmas once had meaning but now it might only be an excuse to give and get presents or to have a nice dinner somewhere. They no longer believe that they need a Savior, so His birth is nothing more than an excuse for a holiday. If they still believe in Heaven, they assume they will get there no matter what. Whether they lost Faith due to scandal, or due to their own lack of commitment to prayer, or because they had no real Catholic education (even if they went to Catholic schools), or simply on account of busyness with everyday cares and wanting to sleep in on Sundays, they have the mostly unnoticed but crippling disease of apostasy. They have, without, most likely, ever verbalizing it, given up all rights they once had, as baptized members of God’s Family, to Eternal Life in Heaven. Is there any way that you could build a spiritual handicap ramp for them? Maybe a ramp is too much of an undertaking right away. Start with just spiritually opening the door for them as you did here physically with the parishioners with walkers. Invite them to Midnight Mass with you. Bring them a church bulletin each week. Enthusiastically tell them about the Latin Mass or Adoration or even the potlucks. Sometimes all they need is someone (you!) to show some interest, to open the door, to give a simple invitation to come and rediscover Christ’s love.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Watch Out For Construction!
This week construction started on our new handicap ramp at the church. There is already a ramp for those who need it but it is strangely located on the side of the church opposite the parking lot! People can and do use it occasionally but it requires them to either go all the way around the church to access it or to park on the grass, away from most other people, which means that if they should have an accident, tip over their wheelchair, or fall from their walker, it is possible that they would lie there for quite some time before being discovered. Also, the old ramp only supplies access to the church up near the sanctuary so if anyone wants to enter the social hall while Mass or Adoration is in process, they have no choice but to come in through the church and, at least in their own mind, distracting those trying to pray. The new ramp will allow access from the parking lot near the handicap spots into both the social hall and the church, making it much more convenient for everyone involved. Unfortunately, it means that those much-used doors will not be functional until the construction is complete, the handrails are installed, and the cement has hardened. Will that be only one weekend or two? When it comes to construction schedules, only God knows! In the meantime, if you have trouble walking long distances, you might be better off parking closer to the front doors of the church rather than in the handicap spots so that you can get in easier. And, of course, the old ramp will remain usable even if it is not a perfect choice. Once the ramp is complete, we will need to replace the outside doors with those which can open with a push-button. If any of you have any expertise or experience in this area (doors, electronic mechanical openers, locks, trustworthy installers, etc.), please let me know. We can also use push-button operation thingies (that is the Latin technical name for them, or so I am told) for the swinging doors separating the social hall from the church. The cost of the ramp is being underwritten by some anonymous parishioners who saw the need and volunteered to do something about it. Many thanks to them. A few prayers for them from each of you reading this right now would also be wonderful!
On Saturday, December 7, a day which some of you might be reading this, there was a Rorate Coeli Solemn High Mass at Jesuit High School’s chapel. Obviously, I cannot tell you much about it since I am writing about it before it occurs but I hope you were able to attend. The chapel is beautiful, the acoustics are phenomenal, and a Mass by candlelight honoring the Blessed Mother is always a treat. We will have another Rorate Mass, this one at Epiphany, next Saturday, December 14. It, too, will start at 6:30 am, not at the normal 8:00 am Mass time on Saturday, for it is supposed to begin in the dark and end as light is dawning upon the world. Our Lady brings forth, as a result of her “fiat,” the Light of the World which scatters the darkness of sin and brings salvation to all who believe and accept and live all that He taught, most notably by entering His Church and receiving the Sacraments worthily. So mark your calendars, set your alarm a bit earlier than normal, and come for the 6:30 Mass next Saturday. Note that there will not be an 8:00 Mass that day but confessions will still be available at or around the normal time.
Finally, the Holy League Men’s Group will meet this Thursday after taking a day off for Thanksgiving which fell on our last scheduled meeting day. Men, if you haven’t been to one of these meetings or haven’t been in a while, I want to encourage you to come and see what you have been missing. We start at 6:00 pm with the Angelus and Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. Most guys are not there at the very beginning, as they are still stuck in traffic after work, but they trickle in when then can, so don’t be worried if you know you will be late. Vespers, or Evening Prayer, is chanted by two of the men (the rest have been taught how to join in and do so as they are able) and a rosary is led following the chanted prayers. I hear confessions during this time and then return to give the Benediction. After the pray time, we retire to the social hall to continue discussing St. Pius X’s Catechism. We are up to the section on the 4th commandment, one which those of you with children still at home certainly don’t want to miss! Last of all, we have time to socialize with other men who are struggling mightily to become better Catholic men, better fathers, better husbands, or, put succinctly, great saints. A bit of food and manly drink and even an occasional Ave Maria cigar accompany the social time for those who wish to participate in those ways, but they are in no way mandatory. Our next meeting after this Thursday (we meet on the second and fourth Thursdays) is the day after Christmas. At this week’s meeting, we will determine if there is any interest in keeping that on the schedule or not. If you are not there, you won’t get a voice in that decision!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: 50 Year Anniversary of Novus Ordo!
Fifty years ago, on the First Sunday of Advent in 1969, everything changed. It was on that fateful day when the New Order of Mass (Novus Ordo in Latin) was mandated to be celebrated throughout the world. In the Church, as in the world, we like to celebrate anniversaries. 50 years is always considered a very special anniversary. But I don’t see any celebrations, large or small, for the Novus Ordo Mass. There has been no special promulgation, no encyclical written, no apostolic letter sent out, nor even diocesan luncheons. There has been nothing but silence. Why? Why would the Church leaders remain close-mouthed about something that greatly affected every single Catholic and indirectly, at least, every non-Catholic? Why, when the Novus Ordo Mass is constantly promoted as the greatest thing since sliced bread, aren’t we witnessing great processions through the streets of Rome, huge diocesan Masses with the bishops rallying all of their priests, or even individual pastors celebrating special Masses anywhere in the world? I think it is pretty obvious. Because, no matter what “everybody” says, the Novus Ordo Mass has been a failed experiment and celebrating it would put the focus where “they” don’t want it to be.
Let me sidetrack for just a moment. I constantly hear from priests that I should never say that one Form of Mass is better than the other. They give this command even though I generally don’t tell my fellow priests that I am thoroughly convinced that the Traditional Latin Mass is much more efficacious and far more pleasing to God than the Novus Ordo Mass. I don’t have to tell them. They know, just from the way I speak about my parish and what we do and why we exist, what I believe. And they don’t want to hear it. So they tell me that a Mass is a Mass is a Mass and that the Form I celebrate (most of the time, anyway) is not any better or worse than the Form they celebrate. The funny thing is, though, that they don’t believe what they say. They believe that the Novus Ordo Mass is much superior to the Traditional Latin Mass. How do I know? Because they won’t even attempt to celebrate the TLM. Most look at it with contempt and even the most “open-minded” see it as a quaint relic of days before the Novus Ordo Enlightenment. Once that line of communication is open, though, I sometimes have the opportunity to put a bug in their ear about why I believe what I believe. The people don’t know Latin! So what? My parishioners know that the Mass isn’t a dinner party (we need more food and drink if it is) but is, rather, the Holy Sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Who took on our human nature, perfectly offering Himself to the Father in an unbloody way just as He did in a bloody manner two thousand years ago. The same sacrifice. Even those who cannot read or hear or see can enter into that sacrifice! But what about the little old ladies praying their rosary? Isn’t that showing that they don’t know what is happening? Strange that you don’t realize that the Mass is presenting to us the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord and that the little old ladies are meditating on the Life, Death, and Resurrection of Our Lord as they pray the rosary! But the people don’t get to have full, active, and conscious participation since the priest reads all of the readings, prays all of the prayers, and distributes Holy Communion himself! 97% of your Novus Ordo Mass parishioners aren’t lectors or EMHCs, either, you idiot! (I sometimes lack perfect charity.) But certainly, you must admit that the 2 and 3 year cycle of readings is much better than hearing the same old thing year after year. And it certainly makes it easier to preach when the content is always new. No, I don’t admit to any such thing. The Mass is not a Bible study. If it is, it is a poorly designed class. After 50 years of the new lectionary, are Catholics really better Bible scholars? Are the priests really better preachers? Rhetorical questions, obviously. The TLM converted the world from paganism. Under the NOM paganism is regaining its prior stronghold and nothingism is battling for prominence.
That brings us back to why there are no celebrations. Statistics show quite clearly that millions of people left the Church when the NOM was forced upon them. Many who stayed and most of those who grew up in the new Mass don’t believe in even the core teachings. Only 30% of active(!) NOM Catholics believe that the Eucharist is really, truly and substantially Jesus’ Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity. 98% of TLM Catholics believe. No, there is nothing to celebrate and “they” would look foolish if they tried. True faith has collapsed, religious life is decimated, pews are empty, vocations have tanked, and marriage and other sacraments are mocked or ignored. There is absolutely no statistical proof that in the past 50 years the Catholic Faith is stronger, more widespread, better practiced, or changing the world for the better. A celebration of a failed venture might open people’s eyes to the disastrous results, and the 50 year old NOM mantra “old is bad, new is great” would be seen for what it is. So they tell me, “Don’t rock the boat. Let sleeping dogs lie. Ignorance is bliss.” What would the prophet Ezekiel say? Jeremiah? The Apostles?
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Novena Prayer and Mass Intentions
Stories about priests nowadays tend to focus on something they did wrong. But every once in a while you might hear a story about a priest who gets things right. I am about to tell you one of those stories. Six years ago a priest showed up at my rectory where he would be a guest for the extent of his studies at the local university. He was from Tanzania, Africa, and had never been to the United States. This priest, Fr. Emmanuel Ndechihiro, was a quiet, even shy, skinny young man. He knew nothing about me except that I had agreed to let him stay. He knew very little of what to expect in the USA. His Bishop had sent him, via an academic scholarship, to get an undergraduate degree in mathematics so that he could teach once he returned home. (Their schools are staffed by priests and religious so that they don’t have to pay salaries, for they will work for merely room and board!) I could tell many stories about what it was like watching him experience things that are common for us but mind-boggling for him, such as seeing a grocery store for the first time, with more food than he had seen in his entire life. But of all the stories about him, the best is simply that he was a very holy, prayerful, and faithful priest. He studied hard and it was not just because he enjoyed studying but more so because his Bishop sent him here for that purpose. Obedience was key. He got an undergraduate degree, then a Masters and then his Bishop asked him to get a Ph.D. Out of obedience, he said “yes” to each request. But recently the workload of Ph.D. courses, plus having to teach (required by the scholarship) and grade papers each and every day started taking a toll on his prayer life. He noticed that he rushed through his priestly duties to get to his “necessary” academic duties. He realized that if he kept up the pace and stayed on that path, he would soon be a very poor priest, and not in a monetary sense of the word “poor.” As I said, though, this is a story about a priest who gets things right, so he took an unwanted but necessary action. He prayed in what little time he had for prayer and decided to ask his Bishop if he could return home without the degree but while he still cared about and cherished his priesthood. Fortunately, he has an understanding Bishop and he was given permission to withdraw from classes and return home.
It hurt him to have to ask such a thing. It hurt him to think that he might be disappointing his Bishop. It hurt him to see that he had compromised and shortchanged his priestly ministry and duties for the sake of things that, while good in and of themselves, were much less important. It hurt to leave good friends. He never wanted to burden anyone with his struggles in that area, but he was hurting as he said his good-byes. One of our dear parishioners pointed out that he might need more prayers right now than we know. She asked if we might pray a novena for him. I think that is a great idea. I suggest praying the Novena of Grace to St. Francis Xavier, Patron Saint of African Missions, which, by Divine coincidence, starts November 24! Please pray it for nine consecutive days for any spiritual, emotional or physical healing Fr. Emmanuel might need so that he can be a reinvigorated, holy priest. The novena prayer is inserted in today’s bulletin [on our website: see it below this article]. Thank you for joining in these prayers for him!
The next topic is about Mass intentions. The Mass Intention Book will be opened the first week of December. (Please do not bother Kim or Mark at Mass regarding even such important and holy things like Mass intentions, for they get bothered so much that they cannot truly pray and sometimes have to go elsewhere for Mass just so that they can pray in peace! They are at Mass for Mass, not so that you can treat them like an “OPEN SUNDAY” branch office of the rectory.) The Masses available include the Novus Ordo weekday Masses both in English and Vietnamese, the Saturday evening Novus Ordo Vigil Mass, both TLM Sunday Masses, the 6:30 TLM weekday Masses and the Saturday morning 8:00 am TLM. In other words, we don’t take Mass intentions for the Sunday Vietnamese Masses or the Monday through Friday 8:00 TLMs. I reserve those weekday 8 am Masses for “emergency” Masses, such as when one of you comes with a request for an injured friend or a relative who just passed away. The Mass stipend requested is $10 for those which go into the book (paid when you request the Mass, please) and ZERO for the 8:00 special requests (priests can only take one Mass stipend per day and I will have normally accepted one for the early Mass, so I don’t take one for the second Mass!). Please don’t wait until the day before the anniversary of your grandmother’s death to ask for a Mass for her, or chances are slim you will get it. Plan ahead. Ask for it when the book for next year first opens. This year I am setting a limit of 21 Masses by any one family (my rule, not Canon Law). You will see another reminder of this in next week’s bulletin as well.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
St. Francis Xavier Novena (for Fr. Emmanuel)
Pray for nine days beginning Nov. 24th. Feast Day: Dec. 3
O St. Francis Xavier, well beloved and full of charity, in union with thee, I reverently adore the Majesty of God; and since I rejoice with exceeding joy in the singular gifts of grace bestowed upon thee during thy life, and thy gifts of glory after death, I give Him hearty thanks therefore; I beseech thee with all my heart’s devotion to be pleased to obtain for me, by thy effectual intercession, above all things, the grace of living and dying in a state of grace.
Moreover, I beg of thee to obtain any spiritual, emotional or physical healing Fr. Emmanuel might need so that he can be a reinvigorated, holy priest.
But if what I ask of thee so earnestly doth not tend to the glory of God and the greater good of my soul, do thou, I pray, obtain for me what is more profitable to both these ends. Amen.
(Special Font for Fr. Emmanuel: Cambria Math!)
From the Pastor: St. Jude Award, Latin Class, and Sisters
Next weekend we will celebrate the final Sunday of the Liturgical Year. Every year on this particular Sunday it is customary in our diocese that the Bishop bestows a St. Jude Award medal upon someone whom each pastor chooses, in recognition of important work done for the benefit of the parish, often with little to no recompense or fanfare. Time and time again the recipients are shocked as much as they are honored when they receive a letter inviting them to the ceremony. This year I chose an employee of the parish to receive the medal. He is a man whose value I knew nothing of when I first came to Epiphany. I had not expected to need his talents for I had done without them for years before at other parishes. Yet I was fortunate enough to have trusted the advice and pleading of others who assured me of his great worth and so I gave him a part-time job. It was a good decision. Perhaps it was a wise one, perhaps just a lucky one, but a good one nonetheless. You see, at my last two previous assignments, the celebration of the Traditional Latin Mass was limited to the Low Mass. Once Bishop (now retired) Lynch saw the light, jumped on the Traditional bandwagon with great gusto and made Epiphany Tampa’s Center for the Traditional Latin Mass in order to give it greater exposure and make it available to far more people, I, for the first time, needed a schola so that we could also have Sung Masses. In case you haven’t figured it out yet, Anders Bergmann, the director of the schola, is this year’s St. Jude Award recipient. I am very grateful for the hard work and dedication that it takes to train and lead the great schola he has put together. And God bless his wife, Katherine, who takes care of all of their children without his assistance while he is busy! If group awards were given out I would have asked for one medal for each member of the schola and family. The ceremony is open to anyone who wishes to attend. It will be held at the Cathedral of St. Jude the Apostle in St. Petersburg at 3:00 pm on Sunday, November 24. (FYI, here’s some background information on what a “schola” is from Britannica.com: “Schola cantorum, medieval papal singing school and associated choir, the ancestor of the modern Sistine Choir. According to tradition, the schola cantorum was established by Pope Sylvester I (d. 335) and was reorganized by Pope Gregory I (d. 604), but the first written mention of it dates from the 8th century. The purpose of the schola was to teach both singing techniques and the plainsong repertory, which was then learned by oral tradition. Under Pope Gregory the course of study was said to be nine years. In the gradual standardization of Western church chant, the schola’s musicians were a prime influence.”)
On a different note, so to speak (or is that “so to chant”?), one of our parishioners has volunteered to teach another Latin class! This one is going to be different than our last one in that we are looking for families who want to learn Latin together. It should be quite different than any language class you have already taken elsewhere. It will be an attempt to make understanding the Latin used in the Mass become a fun family project, with multiple people of obviously varying ages and abilities all helping each other uncover the “secret code” of our liturgical tongue. Small families (around here that might mean fewer than five kids!) and individuals will be teamed up with others so you can come even if nobody else in your family or circle of friends wishes to join you. Watch for more information coming up soon and talk it up in the meantime.
The last item for the day is a request for prayerful assistance for our girls entering into religious life. Last Lent the Epiphany Council of Catholic Women asked you to participate in their “Pennies for Semmies” campaign, encouraging you to pray for our seminarians and to make a monetary donation to help them with their expenses while they are in formation for the priesthood. This Advent the ECCW is asking you to participate in something very similar for our young women who are in formation to become Religious Sisters. They are calling this campaign “Cents for Sisters” and it will officially kick off in two weeks, so this notice is just a “heads up” to get you prepared. I am also using it as a request. I am much less informed about the needs of those entering into the first stages of Religious Life (whether they be girls discerning a call to be a Sister or Nun or boys looking at becoming a Brother) than I am about those young men discerning priesthood. If your child, male or female, has in the past or is now in some stage of Religious Life formation, I (and the ECCW) could use your input as to how best to help without overstepping bounds or getting in the way or seeming to ignore their real needs. We also want to be sure that we have the names of all of our parishioners who are in formation of one sort or another. So if you have good information to share, please contact either me or someone in the ECCW so that we can learn how best to support and encourage vocations.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: More on Pachamama Idolatry
Last week I showed a short quote from the online Catholic Encyclopedia’s listing on “Idolatry.” This week I want to share just a bit more from that entry, one that is both clear about the severeness of this sin and also quite soothing in its depiction of those who may commit that grievous sin unknowingly. This is found under the subheading: “Moral aspect” of Idolatry.
“Considered in itself, idolatry is the greatest of mortal sins. For it is, by definition, an inroad on God's sovereignty over the world, an attempt on His Divine majesty, a rebellious setting up of a creature on the throne that belongs to Him alone. Even the simulation of idolatry, in order to escape death during persecution, is a mortal sin, because of the pernicious falsehood it involves and the scandal it causes. Of Seneca who, against his better knowledge, took part in idolatrous worship, St. Augustine says: ‘He was the more to be condemned for doing mendaciously what people believed him to do sincerely’. The guilt of idolatry, however, is not to be estimated by its abstract nature alone; the concrete form it assumes in the conscience of the sinner is the all-important element. No sin is mortal — i.e. debars man from attaining the end for which he was created — that is not committed with clear knowledge and free determination. But how many, or how few, of the countless millions of idolaters are, or have been, able to distinguish between the one Creator of all things and His creatures? and, having made the distinction, how many have been perverse enough to worship the creature in preference to the Creator? — It is reasonable, Christian, and charitable to suppose that the ‘false gods’ of the heathen were, in their conscience, the only true God they knew, and that their worship being right in its intention, went up to the one true God with that of Jews and Christians to whom He had revealed Himself. ‘In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ . . . . . the gentiles who have not the law, shall be judged by their conscience’ (Romans 2:14-16). God, who wishes all men to be saved, and Christ, who died for all who sinned in Adam, would be frustrated in their merciful designs if the prince of this world were to carry off all idolaters.”
Did you notice that idolatry is the greatest of mortal sins? Greater than murder, abortion, homicide, eugenics, manslaughter, lynching, assassination, genocide, etc. Greater than any sexual sin whether that be onanism, fornication, adultery, bestiality, sodomy, prostitution, pedophilia, rape, or any other hideous perversion. Why is idolatry so evil? Because it is a direct attack against the might, majesty, love and very being of God. Yet the same article also seems to open wide the gate of the possibility that idol worshippers may not, due to lack of knowledge, be deprived of sanctifying grace (assuming they had it in the first place), for they know not what they do. Certainly, this shows a very “balanced” and “merciful” approach to the subject. Yet it does not mean that ignorance is bliss, for not all idolators are in invincible ignorance. For instance, the article is very clear that for those to whom the knowledge is imparted, the “simulation of idolatry” is yet more grave than actual idolatry. I know, you just read that, so why am I repeating it? To stress the point that nobody wearing a Roman collar can honestly claim ignorance of the grave sin of idolatry or its simulation. Nobody. No, clerics will be judged more severely than laity for, among other reasons, we (yes, I am included in this group) are supposed to know more than the average person when it comes to the tenets of Faith. We will all be judged according to what we know as well as what we are supposed to know. Let me assure you that even in the worst of seminaries, this recently enacted form of idolatry is not taught as a morally good thing. On the topic of whether or not idolatrous pagan religious rites were carried out to kick off the recent Amazon synod, here’s a quote from Lifesite News: “Paulo Suess, one of the key authors of the Amazon Synod's working document, commented on this ceremony, saying “so what. Even if it would have been a pagan rite, then it is nevertheless a pagan worship of God.” No, this is not a “so what” issue. This is out and out the “greatest of mortal sins.” And, with the exception of 7 cardinals and bishops who went public, there is silence from on high, or, worse, accusations that those denouncing this idolatry are enemies of the Church and Bishop of Rome. Do not believe it. The Faithful need real leadership (Apostles and martyrs, come to our aid) right now but effeminate priests fear that speaking the truth will get them in trouble with their Bishop. Emasculated Bishops fear that speaking the truth (or allowing their priests to do so) will get them in trouble with their own wimpy priests, their fellow Bishops, and their Boss Bishop. These fears are correctly held, I believe, but if priests and Bishops don’t overcome their fears, we will not be, in any real sense of the word, Catholic for very much longer, so what “job” of theirs will they be protecting through keeping silence or silencing others? As man cannot serve both God and Pachamama, so Pagan-Catholicism cannot get anyone to Heaven. The salt is losing its savour...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Pachamama in Rome
Just in case some of you have not been following Catholic news recently, I want to present to you something that the rest of the world, Catholic or not, has been viewing, reading about, and hearing of for more than a week now. It is all part of the recently concluded “Amazon Synod.” No, I am not going to write about the women deaconettes which the final document recommends, nor am I going to write about the new Amazon Rite which will, I am sure, be taken up with great gusto by numerous priests and bishops who adamantly oppose only one particular Rite within the Church, nor will I even broach the topic of viri probati, the suggested married men who will “save” the Church by being ordained as priests. Heck, I am not even going to be writing about the poster that the Amazonian “missionaries” displayed showing the “circle of ecological life” which includes a woman holding a child while breastfeeding--not him--but a piglet. No, I am simply going to present to you something about the statues of naked, pregnant women which were part of a somehow non-idolatrous pagan Earth-worship ritual in the Vatican gardens with [ahem] certain high ranking clerics, whom I will leave unnamed, sitting in approval, and then later set up for worship and veneration in several churches nearby: Pachamama idols. What is Pachamama?
Here is the opening paragraph of the Pachamama page of Wikipedia. “Pachamama is a goddess revered by the indigenous people of the Andes. She is also known as the earth/time mother. In Inca mythology, Pachamama is a fertility goddess who presides over planting and harvesting, embodies the mountains, and causes earthquakes. She is also an ever-present and independent deity who has her own self-sufficient and creative power to sustain life on this earth. Her shrines are hallowed rocks, or the boles of legendary trees, and her artists envision her as an adult female bearing harvests of potatoes and coca leaves. The four cosmological Quechua principles – Water, Earth, Sun, and Moon – claim Pachamama as their prime origin. Priests sacrifice llamas, cuy (guinea pigs), and elaborate, miniature, burned garments to her. Pachamama is the mother of Inti the sun god and Mama Killa the moon goddess. Pachamama is said to also be the wife of Inti, her son.” You can find much more about the pagan rituals to this idol, the sacrificial offerings to this “Mother Earth”, and the New Age interpretations of her worship with very little effort, so I will not include more.
“Certainly,” you must be thinking, “no Pachamamas would ever be prostrated before, blessed, and enthroned by any real Catholic, let alone high-ranking members of the Church!”, but you would be wrong. Although the Prefect of the Holy See’s Dicastery for Communications, Paolo Ruffini, is quoted as saying, “There were no rituals. No prostration took place. We have repeated this here. We have to be rigorous in saying things that actually happened before cameras. We said that this did not happen”, it is the Vatican’s own video which shows what he denies. (Look up “gaslighting”.) “But certainly,” you might then follow up with, “nobody knew what they were! They must have thought them to be just ordinary statues!” Unfortunately, Wikipedia shows that Pachamama worship is found in Argentina and a certain Argentinan gave a short address in which he says quite clearly, “Good afternoon, I would like to say a word about the pachamama statues that were removed from the Church at Traspontina, which were there without idolatrous intentions and were thrown into the Tiber. First of all, this happened in Rome and, as bishop of [redacted to protect his identity -auth.], I ask pardon of the people who were offended by this act.”
I cannot explain how idols can be prostrated before or honored in churches without idolatrous intent. Instead, let me quote the Catholic Encyclopedia’s article on Idolatry with emphasis on its result: The first undoubted mention of idolatry in the Bible is in Genesis 31:19: "Rachel stole away her father's idols [teraphim]", and when Laban overtook Jacob in his flight and made search for "his gods", Rachel "in haste hid the idols under the camel's furniture, and sat upon them" (31:34). Yet Laban also worshipped the same God as Jacob, whose blessing he acknowledges (30:27), and on whom he calls to judge between him and Jacob (30:53). A similar practice of blending reverence to the true God with the idolatrous worship of surrounding nations runs though [sic] the whole history of Israel. When Moses delayed to come down from the holy mount, the people, "gathering together against Aaron, said: Arise, make us gods, that may go before us". And Aaron made a molten calf, "and they said: These are thy gods, O Israel, that have brought thee out of the land of Egypt. And . . . they offered holocausts, and peace victims, and the people sat down to eat, and drink, and they rose up to play" (Exodus 32:1 sqq.). In Settim "the people committed fornication with the daughters of Moab, . . . and adored their gods. And Israel was initiated to Beelphegor" (Numbers 25:1-3). Again, after the death of Josue, "the children of Israel . . . served Baalim . . . and they followed strange gods, and the gods of the people that dwelt round about them" (Judges 2:11 sq.). Whenever the children of Israel did evil in the eyes of Jehovah, swift retribution overtook them; they were given into the hands of their enemies.” [emphasis mine -auth.] I need add nothing more.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Worthy Cause
Every once in a while people ask me if I know of any truly good Catholic charities. They have been frustrated by the seemingly endless accounts of money collected by various organizations within the church going to anti-Catholic organizations, misused through fraud, paying for coverups, etc. Besides this faithful parish’s weekly collection, where is a faithful Catholic going to give to God and His Church and His people and not worry about the money being used for immorality? We have a spiritual need to give. We have a moral obligation to give. We all know that. But who really needs the money and who will put it to good use? Today I have a very worthy group of Sisters who have a project which needs funding. I met Sr. Winifrida Daud, STH, years ago when I was the pastor of St. Rita and she was getting an education in administration at St. Leo University. We have kept in touch ever since. She is now the Superior of her Congregation and in charge of their school in Mwanza, Tanzania. I present below a bit of information she recently sent to me. I decided to edit it for length but not for grammar, but this is NOT coming from a Nigerian prince who wants to make you rich!
PROJECT TITLE: PLANTING TREES AND CASSAVA FOR FOOD AND HELPING WOMEN
St Therese Sisters Congregation is committed to evangelization by carrying out spiritual and
community development activities. The sisters work in various parishes, schools, hospitals,
health centers and developments centers in different Dioceses, in three countries: Tanzania,
Kenya and Burundi. The Congregation owns and administers some of these institutions. In order to further their mission of reaching out to the poor, in 2015, the community bought a small land in Nyanguge, Mwanza to start development area, we found that there are many people who not getting enough food due to the climate changes of not getting enough rain. The sisters plan to start the projects that will combat poverty and educate the people the importance of planting trees and cultivating crops which can sustain the dry season.
Climate change is considered to be one of the most serious threats to sustainable development at Nyanguge. Normally Nyanguge area used to have rain from September to March. For three
years this area got rain in October to January, this year the rain started in November to January.
The dry season is longer than rain season. The people who live there depend on farming. The
main crops are maize, rice and sweet potatoes. The farmers work hard in farming but they end
up on little harvest due to the climate changes.
In assessing the reason of not getting enough rain, we realized that many people cut trees for
firewood without planting other trees. If we are note planting trees that area can endup becoming a desert. The Sisters of St. Therese are planning to start the project of planting trees and cassava faming to guide the people especially women to plant trees in their area to see if that area can have rain. Also the importance of planting crops like cassava which sustain dry season . The sisters are planning to organize the seminars in different groups about planting trees and cassava. We hope through this project and seminar the women and youths will be able to support their families and decrease poverty.
We hope that if the sister will get support from you organization will be able to plant
2,000 trees and 8 acres of cassava at Nyanguge area.
PROJECT OBJECTIVES: •
To increase the awareness of keeping tree for the future generation
To enhance the importance of planting trees
To reduce the famine among the people who live there
To chance the life of women in supporting their family
To diminish poverty for having sustainable rain season.
To diminish poverty for having sustainable cassava food project.
[There is a bit more, but you get the picture. If you want more details about how you can help, contact me and I will get you more information. --Father Palka]
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Reminder of Purgatory
This is a reminder that All Souls Day is coming soon. There is only one more Sunday before that day (a Saturday, this year) on which to bring in your list of the Faithful Departed whom you wish to have remembered at Mass. Unless and until Holy Mother Church declares any departed person to be in Heaven we rightfully pray for their soul in case they are still in need of final purification before entering for all eternity into the presence of God. Also remember that the first 8 days of November will bring opportunities to receive, on behalf of a soul in purgatory, a plenary indulgence by visiting a cemetery and praying for the poor souls. Below are excerpts of the Catholic Encyclopedia regarding Purgatory, a teaching rejected by almost all Protestants and seemingly, at least, ignored or ridiculed even by most current-day Catholics, and yet clearly taught and held to be a doctrine of the Faith.
Purgatory (Lat., "purgare", to make clean, to purify) in accordance with Catholic teaching is a place or condition of temporal punishment for those who, departing this life in God's grace, are, not entirely free from venial faults, or have not fully paid the satisfaction due to their transgressions.
Temporal punishment. That temporal punishment is due to sin, even after the sin itself has been pardoned by God, is clearly the teaching of Scripture. God indeed brought man out of his first disobedience and gave him power to govern all things (Wisdom 10:2), but still condemned him "to eat his bread in the sweat of his brow" until he returned unto dust. God forgave the incredulity of Moses and Aaron, but in punishment kept them from the "land of promise" (Numbers 20:12). The Lord took away the sin of David, but the life of the child was forfeited because David had made God's enemies blaspheme His Holy Name (2 Samuel 12:13-14). In the New Testament as well as in the Old, almsgiving and fasting, and in general penitential acts are the real fruits of repentance (Matthew 3:8; Luke 17:3; 3:3). The whole penitential system of the Church testifies that the voluntary assumption of penitential works has always been part of true repentance and the Council of Trent (Sess. XIV, can. xi) reminds the faithful that God does not always remit the whole punishment due to sin together with the guilt. God requires satisfaction, and will punish sin, and this doctrine involves as its necessary consequence a belief that the sinner failing to do penance in this life may be punished in another world, and so not be cast off eternally from God.
Venial sins. All sins are not equal before God, nor dare anyone assert that the daily faults of human frailty will be punished with the same severity that is meted out to serious violation of God's law. On the other hand whosoever comes into God's presence must be perfectly pure for in the strictest sense His "eyes are too pure, to behold evil" (Habakkuk 1:13). For unrepented venial faults for the payment of temporal punishment due to sin at time of death, the Church has always taught the doctrine of purgatory.
So deep was this belief ingrained in our common humanity that it was accepted by the Jews, and in at least a shadowy way by the pagans, long before the coming of Christianity. ("Aeneid," VI, 735 sq.; Sophocles, "Antigone," 450 sq.).
Succouring the dead. Scripture and the Fathers command prayers and oblations for the departed, and the Council of Trent (Sess. XXV, "De Purgatorio") in virtue of this tradition not only asserts the existence of purgatory, but adds "that the souls therein detained are aided by the suffrages of the faithful and principally by the acceptable sacrifice of the altar." That those on earth are still in communion with the souls in purgatory is the earliest Christian teaching, and that the living aid the dead by their prayers and works of satisfaction is clear from the tradition above alleged. That the Holy Sacrifice was offered for the departed was received Catholic Tradition even in the days of Tertullian and Cyprian, and that the souls of the dead, were aided particularly "while the sacred victim lay upon the altar" is the expression of Cyril of Jerusalem quoted above. Augustine (Serm. clxii, n. 2) says that the "prayers and alms of the faithful, the Holy Sacrifice of the altar aid the faithful departed and move the Lord to deal with them in mercy and kindness, and," he adds, "this is the practice of the universal Church handed down by the Fathers." Whether our works of satisfaction performed on behalf of the dead avail purely out of God's benevolence and mercy, or whether God obliges himself in justice to accept our vicarious atonement, is not a settled question. Francisco Suárez thinks that the acceptance is one of justice, and alleges the common practice of the Church which joins together the living and the dead without any discrimination (De poenit., disp. xlviii, 6, n. 4).
So here is your reminder. The Poor Souls need your prayers. With or without a donation or All Souls envelope, place your list of departed family, friends and even, perhaps, enemies in the collection basket next Sunday. Eternal rest grant unto them, O Lord...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Priest Convocation
Last week I and most of the priests of the diocese spent a few days at the Bethany Center. This annual convocation of priests is not a retreat, where prayer, silence and perhaps spiritual talks would be the focus. No, this is a gathering of priests where “practical application” talks are the main focus. This year we had two men from Dynamic Catholic come to encourage us to make our parishioners “missionary disciples” and “dynamic Catholics” and a couple of other nifty terms. I must say that they were very good at presenting their material and they did give some good pointers and interesting statistics about average Catholics in the pews, but it was really all Catholic Lite. That was their stated purpose, so I don’t say that as a put-down. The focus of their company is on getting the nominal Catholics to become more involved in their parish and, once involved, become better Catholics. It is a bit odd once you see it in writing, I think, but it happens quite often nowadays. A new parishioner, perhaps after just coming into the Church through the RCIA or a fallen-away Catholic who just started coming back to church, is asked to get involved in teaching CCD (or Faith Formation or Religious Education or whatever it is called) because, number one, there is a lack of teachers volunteering to do so and, number two, to make them feel more a part of the parish. It is this second point which was being pushed as priority number one for a dynamic parish. But what it does in practical reality is put those who have little or no knowledge of the Faith in charge of passing on (what exactly?) that little knowledge to our kids. Now, the best way to learn is to teach, so some might do a spectacular job. But more likely, they will just pass on what they know from their previous protestant or secular humanist background or what they think they know after going through a pretty pathetic RCIA program run by, you guessed it, the last convert. These guys were really good at making that sound wonderful! Get the people involved! Sign them up! After a year or two of activity, they will be ready to learn something about the Catholic Faith! Just don’t teach too soon or you will run them off! I exaggerate only a little.
Meanwhile, back at the parish, we had the opposite going on. A mission was being preached. Catholic teaching was being imparted. “Hard” sayings were being boldly stated, like a light not hidden under a bushel basket but set out for all to clearly see. Quite a different approach to helping Catholics become more fully, faithfully, and joyfully Catholic! At the convocation, we were given a sneak peek at the message which will come to us in the next couple of years, too, for several priests whose books they highly recommended are coming to give priests retreats for us and to give the presentations at next year’s convocation. Here is a snippet of wisdom which we were given that comes from one of the highly recommended priest’s books. “Music is probably the most controversial topic in the parish. But if you want a dynamic parish, you must have praise and worship music.” I wonder... no, I better not go there! Anyway, they were sincere in their beliefs, they really believe in their message, and, given the state of things in the Church today, perhaps they are correct in thinking that even someone with little to no knowledge of the Faith can still teach the average pew sitter more than they know. But I don’t think so little of you who sit in Epiphany’s pews.
That being said, some of the statistics they quoted for us might apply to Epiphany, though I hope not. Approximately 7 percent of the parishioners do any volunteer work at the parish. Approximately 7 percent of the parishioners contribute approximately 80 percent of the total collection. The overlap between those two groups is over 80 percent, so it seems that those who do the work also pay the bills and the rest are freeloaders on both accounts, having a consumerist mentality. “I only pay for things I enjoy and I don’t enjoy Church so I don’t contribute much in the way of money or time or labor. And the weeks I don’t attend, I don’t contribute anything at all.” Now, I have never looked to see who contributes what so I can neither verify nor deny that stat. But it is something worth thinking about. Does it apply to you? By the way, it was about here that we were told to play praise and worship music in order to make people happier, so that they would bring friends to church, so that they would volunteer at church, and so that they would give more in the collection plate. I wonder... no, I still better not go there!
But, lest you think that I did not enjoy the convocation, let me assure you that I most certainly did! Getting together with fellow priests in a setting where we ate meals together, watched the Rays win a baseball playoff game, had a few drinks, smoked a few cigars, and told a whole bunch of stories on one another, is a once a year pleasure. Plus, one more priest asked me to teach him how to celebrate the TLM, which I celebrated (privately) daily for your dynamic Catholicism.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Anders was Instituted as an Acolyte
Last Sunday you understandably might have wondered what was going on at the 10:30 Mass. Anders, our schola director, was participating in the Solemn High Mass, not as the leader of the choir in the rear of the church, but rather front and center as a subdeacon! Lest you continue in your befuddlement, let me explain what happened. Anders is a Catholic of the Latin Rite but belongs to a subset called the Personal Ordinariate of St. Peter. According to the Ordinariate webpage, it “is equivalent to a diocese, created by the Vatican in 2012 for people nurtured in the Anglican tradition who wish to become Catholic.” This includes Anglicans, Episcopalians, and Methodists, and may include members of their families, even if only one of the members was from an Anglican background. Again, quoting from their webpage, “The Ordinariate was created to provide a path for groups of Anglicans to become fully Roman Catholic, while retaining elements of their worship traditions and spiritual heritage in their union with the Catholic Church. The Ordinariate is a key ecumenical venture exemplifying the Second Vatican Council’s vision for Christian unity, in which diverse expressions of one faith are joined together in the Church. The Personal Ordinariate of the Chair of St. Peter was established in response to repeated and persistent inquiries from Anglicans who over time, have come to identify the Catholic Church as their home. Those joining the Ordinariate have discerned they are truly Catholic in what they believe and desire full membership in the Catholic Church.” I included this quote just in case anyone wonders if they are truly “Catholic”. The answer is, “Yes!” But why would converts from Anglican stock not just convert and become Catholic in the same way that most others do? Well, because they don’t have to! Many of these communities, though they broke away from the Church centuries ago, still held fast to quite a few ancient Catholic traditions with which they were grounded before breaking away. In recent decades, when many Catholics were abandoning all things traditional, these groups retained what Catholics discarded. Coming back to full communion with the Church would mean, for them, casting out many of those traditions which they held so dear and which Catholics throughout most of history held dear, too. Ordinariates helped them avoid having to make a strange choice, which seemed to be “Become Catholic by throwing out Catholic traditions, or remain outside of the Church while embracing Catholic traditions.” I am grossly simplifying things, of course, due to the lack of space to write a “real” history, but in order to make the choice to enter the Church more palatable, Personal Ordinariates were established to welcome them home. And, before you question why they didn’t just embrace the Tridentine Mass, look at the timeline and you will see that the 1962 Mass was not yet made widely available (it still is not available in many places to this day) as the plans for the Personal Ordinariates were being drawn up, debated, and finalized.
As it was, though, most “high” Anglicans had kept to a large degree, though embracing the Novus Ordo calendar and the use of vernacular, the older form of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. (Yes, I realize that they did not have valid Holy Orders, yet they still retained much of the liturgical ceremony which they, as a splinter group from Catholicism, had long cherished and never abandoned.) Now that they are back in the Church, they need to find ways to celebrate properly and with great solemnity, the Holy Sacrifice in it’s (although modified as mentioned) glorious form. That requires priests, deacons and subdeacons. But there are no more minor orders, so there are no subdeacons. But Pope Paul VI, when abolishing the minor orders, decreed that instituted acolytes would be able to substitute for subdeacons. (There, I finally came back around to the topic of this article!) So the bishop of the Ordinariate, Bishop Lopes, regularly institutes men primarily to fulfill this role. We, too, who embrace the Extraordinary Form of the Mass, need acolytes/subdeacons. Fortunately, since the men of the Ordinariate are in union with the Catholic Church, and are members of the same Latin Rite, acolytes of one “branch” can perform their ministerial duties in the other “branch” as well. Perhaps you remember that last year I celebrated Mass for the members of the Ordinariate according to their own Missal. I could do that because we are both Catholics of the same Rite, even though there are differences between the Forms. In fact, I dare to say that there are far fewer differences between the Ordinariate Form of the Mass and the Extraordinary Form than there are between the Ordinary Form of the Mass and the Extraordinary Form. Yet all of us can participate in all three Forms according to our state of life.
Anyway, Anders was trained and instituted as an acolyte and is now able to fulfill a liturgical role as subdeacon of the Traditional Latin Mass. We are blessed and thankful for his new ministerial role. Congratulations, Anders!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
PS If you want to have a little liturgical fun, do an online search to see the arguments as to whether an instituted acolyte more properly fulfills the role of a subdeacon as a subdeacon or as a straw subdeacon, the latter terminology being something most “normal” people have never heard of before! Liturgists and wanna-be liturgists revel in such arcane nomenclature.
From the Pastor: Parish Mission Starts Next Sunday!
Next weekend Fr. Sean Kopczynski, MSJB will be here, along with a novice from his religious order, to conduct a parish mission while the priests are away at the annual Diocesan Convocation. As always occurs during the first full week of October, the priests gather with the bishop from Monday afternoon until Thursday afternoon for some talks, for some socializing, for some free time together, and even for a little prayer time as a group. Most parishes will be without Mass for those days. Epiphany will have the regular Traditional Latin Mass schedule in the church (with Fr. Kopczynski celebrating), although the Novus Ordo Masses in the chapel will be canceled Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. NOTE: I am writing about NEXT WEEK, NOT THIS WEEK! Also, while on that subject, starting in October the 8:00 am Novus Ordo Masses in the rectory chapel on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday will be in Vietnamese. Fr. Chien knows that a Vietnamese daily Mass is an essential element in building up his mission community, and if this works out, soon all of the Novus Ordo Masses will be in Vietnamese and the chapel will be packed weekday mornings. (Of course, I am still praying that at some time in the near future all of the Vietnamese Masses will be in the Traditional Rite so that, among other reasons, our two communities will be able to unite, to be Catholic in the fullest sense of the word.)
Getting back to the parish mission, now, I want to stress that everyone is welcome to attend everything being offered. Everyone includes those from St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission, those from the Immaculate Conception Haitian Mission, and those from the surrounding parishes, as well as those from Epiphany. As you have seen in the bulletin inserts, heard at Mass announcements, and read on the posters throughout the church and social hall, Father will have catechism classes in the morning and mission talks in the evening. Please mark your calendars and come receive the graces being offered.
“Is there anything I can do to help?” I know that this question is on everyone’s lips right now, as you all want to not only participate but also assist. Yes, you can help. Spread the word, number one. Nobody else is having a parish mission right now, so there is no “competition” in this regard. (That is why we were able to get such a great Mission Preacher!) Let your friends and family and coworkers know that they are welcome to come, even if they have never been to Epiphany or to anything Traditional in the Catholic Church. If they want to grow in holiness, this is the place to be next week. The second thing some few of you might be able to assist with is meals. As you know, we don’t have a cook at the rectory. The priests will be gone, leaving our two distinguished guests, who don’t even know what a “Publix” is, let alone know where one might be, to fend for themselves. (Pity them. There are no Publix’s in Kentucky.) If any of you want to cook for them, feel free to do so. I have not been made aware of any food allergies or likes or dislikes, but you might want to ask once they get here. The third way in which you might assist (and, as you can tell, these are not in order of priority!) is to either continue or start to pray for the success of the Mission. Yes, the mission preacher needs a lot of prayer, as the demands on him are great, the spiritual attacks on him are greater still, and the prayers offered on his behalf beforehand are often few. Most people seem to think that the mission preachers are simply imbued with holiness, knowledge, wisdom, and communication skills in such a way that they are immune to the pitfalls of this world or the netherworld. Not so. As I tell you often, if you want a good homily, pray for the preacher. Taking it a step further now, if you want a good Preached Mission, pray for the Mission Preacher! Beseech God that, by His grace and through the hands of the Blessed Mother, Fr. Kopczynski be a Saint (not just that he become one, but pray that he already is one!) for your own benefit as well as for his.
Lastly, because the Convocation doesn’t begin until after St. Francis’ Feast Day this year (October 4), I will be offering a Blessing of the Animals that day (this Friday) after the morning Mass, confessions and Benediction are completed, about 10:00 am. So bring in your pets, critters, trapped wildlife, teens, or whatever kind of animal you happen to have hanging out at your house. This is not a long, drawn-out ceremony of any sort, just a short blessing, so don't come at 10:31 expecting anyone to still be there!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: What We Did In Madrid
Last week I gave you the prayers and vows of the Consecration which Sister Rachel Maria and the others took as they became perpetually professed Religious. (In case you are just tuning in, so to speak, Sister Rachel Maria is from one of our families, and just took her Perpetual Vows as a Religious Sister with the Home of the Mother. I traveled to Madrid, Spain with my mother to attend the ceremony at their Mother House.) This week I want to let you know what else we did while in Spain. First of all, many of you must have assumed that we were going to be in Spain for a month or more, since you kept insisting that we visit Toledo, Avila, Garabandal, and too many other cities to mention. The reality is that we were only there a few days! We were to fly out of Tampa Wednesday, September 4 shortly before 8 pm. After sitting on the tarmac for a couple of hours, we got off the plane for a couple of hours and then back on for another hour before finally taking off about 1:00 am Thursday morning. Of course, that meant that we missed our connecting flight in Amsterdam, and our new connection for later that day was also then delayed. We didn’t get to Madrid until well after midnight on Friday the 6th, arriving at our rented Airbnb sometime after 1:00 am. Amazingly, the streets and sidewalks of Madrid were packed with people at that hour. It seems that they keep much different hours than we do around here! Shops started opening up around 10 am and many of them closed from noon until 4 pm, although restaurants were open and it seems that 2 pm is a normal lunch time. The restaurants then closed again until 8 or 8:30 pm but few people ate that early. 10 pm is family dinner time. 2:00 am sees everything close up once again.
Friday morning we slept in and then headed out to San Gines, where we wanted to indulge in their famous churros and chocolate. But getting there proved harder than expected. I have never used my phone for GPS while walking but have used it extensively while driving. Most of the time it works extremely well on the road. But while walking in Madrid, the little arrow which indicates where I am and what direction I am moving was not pointing in the proper direction. Ever. It wasn’t always pointed in the same wrong direction, either, so it was quite confusing trying to figure out where we were supposed to be heading. None of the streets are parallel. Most are only a few blocks long, ending in a plaza or roundabout with 4 or five other streets intersecting, and the GPS was more confused than I was. Street signs are non existent, though some of the buildings have the street names emblazoned in tiles about ten feet above head level. But not all buildings do, and only one per intersection has it if it is there at all. Since the arrow was never pointing in the right direction, I tried just listening to the phone’s voice commands. “Turn right at Calle de la Misericordia” it would say, but we couldn’t find such a street name and three streets all branched out to the right, so we just guessed as which right was right. We walked a lot without getting anywhere. But we finally found it, and it was worth the trouble. The churros came five or six to a plate, along with a mug of warm, thick, dark, chocolate for dipping. Although some online reviews said that one order was enough for two or three people to share, we each got our own and were darn sure happy to have done it that way! By the time we were done snacking, the church next door, named San Gines, of course, was already closed for the afternoon. We spent the whole afternoon at the Prado museum and only left when they kicked us out at closing time, 8:00 pm.
From there we started home but had to find a place for dinner. There were little bars/restaurants everywhere, with most blocks having several. We rather randomly chose one when we looked through the door at one small, crowded bar and noticed a dining room down a hallway. There was a whole room back there with tables which were completely empty since it was way too early for the locals to eat! We got the absolute best meal of our trip there. Fresh shrimp, fresh larger shrimp, fresh even larger shrimp, (each with a different, delightful taste) and fresh langostinos (like a cross between and huge shrimp and a tiny lobster). Then, feeling adventurous, we ordered the fresh grilled octopus. Scrumptious!
Saturday and Sunday were set aside to be with the Religious Sisters and the Hernandez family (and the Coughlins, former parishioners now living in California who were there, as well as one of our girls, Valeria Merkt, who, along with Maria Hernandez, is an aspirant with the Sisters). Monday and Tuesday were filled with more churros and chocolate, more shrimp, prawns, langostinos, fish, octopus, clams, mussels, barnacles (they taste like clams), and crabs, and visits to many beautiful churches. We didn’t have time to see (and eat) everything in Madrid, let alone travel to other cities! Wednesday morning we headed back to the airport to come home. Mom took photos everywhere we went and she is more than happy to “show and tell” if you ask!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
I didn't think to take the photo until we were already well into this meal, as seen by the shrimp heads on mom's extra plate near her.
From the Pastor: Sister Rachel Maria Sends Her Love!
Sister Rachel Maria of the Virginal Heart of Mary professed Solemn Perpetual Vows as a Servant Sister of the Home of the Mother! She was absolutely thrilled that my mother and I made the trip, that you all helped her family make the trip, that the ceremony and Mass were going to be livecast in our social hall, that the... Well, let me just say that she was thrilled with everything and everyone! There were no words to really express what she was going through but she kept saying “thanks” and “I’m sorry”. The “thanks” was for all that you have done back here for her and her family. The “I’m sorry” was for not being able to spend much time with anyone, including her own family, and not being able to thank everyone in person or enough. She was busy. She needn’t have apologized, as her frenzied, bubbly, joyful, busyness was expected by everyone but her!
Eleven Sisters and one Brother made their professions in the same ceremony. They were asked by the Bishop (I will use only the feminine, though the questions were also asked, obviously, to the Brother in the masculine), “Dear Sisters: What do you ask of God and of His Holy Church?” Their answer was, “To serve the Lord in the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother all the days of my life.” The Bishop asked more questions. “Dear Sisters: Through baptism you have died to sin and are consecrated to the Lord. Do you now wish to consecrate yourselves more intimately to God through the perpetual profession in the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother?” Each replied, “Yes, I do so wish.” Bishop: “Do you wish, by the grace of God, to faithfully observe perfect chastity, obedience, and poverty, thus imitating Jesus Christ and His Mother, the Virgin Mary?” Sisters: “Yes, I do so wish.” Bishop: “Do you wish to strive to obtain perfect charity with God and with your neighbor, with firmness and constancy, faithfully following the Gospel and observing your statutes?” Sisters: “Yes, I do so wish.” Bishop: “Do you wish to defend the Eucharist and the Honor of Our Mother, especially in the privilege of her virginity, in and with your life?” Sisters: “Yes, I do so wish.” Bishop: Do you wish, guided by the Holy Spirit, to generously spend your entire life at the service of the people of God, especially of the youth?” Sisters: “Yes, I do so wish.” We prayed that God would give them the graces necessary to confirm them in their holy resolutions.
Strengthened by the Litany of Saints, they made their vows, which reflect the above-asked questions, ending with, “I surrender myself to You, Lord, with all that I am and all that I have. I consecrate myself to You with all that I may ever be and may ever have. Such as I am, I give myself to You now and forever, as a Servant Sister of the Home of the Mother in order to live with my Sisters in community of life, work, prayer, and love, making of our house a true Home of Nazareth, in full conformity with the Constitutional norms, which we have voluntarily chosen.” Finally, the Bishop gave them a Solemn Blessing and Consecration. “Oh God, source and origin of all holiness, You have so loved men that You have made them participants in Your divinity and You have not permitted that Your plans of love be destroyed by the sin of Adam or changed by the offenses of the world. Already at the beginning of time, You gave us an example of innocent life in Abel. You inspired holy men and women, full of every virtue, to arise among the Hebrew people, among which the Daughter of Zion, the most Blessed Virgin Mary, stands out, in whose virginal womb Your Word, Jesus Christ Our Lord, became incarnate. He is the image of the holiness desired by You. He became poor to enrich us; He became a Servant to restore our freedom. By His paschal mystery and with ineffable love, He redeemed and sanctified His Church, which was promised the gifts of the Spirit. Under the inspiration of the Paraclete, Lord, You have called innumerable sons and daughters of Yours to follow Christ so that by abandoning the things of this world and joined by the bond of love, they may unite themselves to You with a fervent spirit and be at the service of all their brethren. Lord, look upon these Your children, whom You have called in Your providence, and pour forth upon them the Holy Spirit, so that by Your aid and full of joy, they may faithfully fulfill what they have promised today. May they attentively meditate and faithfully follow the examples of the Divine Teacher. May they abound in chastity, joyful poverty, and generous obedience. May they please You with their humility, serve Your with a docile heart, and love You with fervent charity. May they be patient in tribulation, firm in faith, joyful in hope, and active in love. May their life build up the Church, promote the salvation of the world, and be a clear sign of the heavenly goods. Lord, Heavenly Father, may You be the guide and support of Your children, and when they reach the judgment of Your Son, may You be their recompense and reward so that they may rejoice in having offered themselves in religious life. Thus strengthened in Your love, may they rejoice in the company of the Saints, with whom they will praise You without end. We ask this through Christ, Our Lord. Amen.”
We love you, Sister! Ora pro nobis!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Many Thanks!
The first part of this article is written by someone near and dear to me and to you, mom.
Some are afraid of getting old. Some are happy to get old (5 ½). Some ignore getting old. Some embrace getting old. As for me, I am the mother of “the priest”. Our Happy Holy Pastor who let everyone know I am now 80. So the whole Epiphany family helped me celebrate. So many of you took the time to wish me a happy birthday. Some were able to come to breakfast even though it was raining hard. Many more were able to come to The 3rd Wednesday of the month Covered Dish that celebrated everyone who had an August birthday. So many showed up we filled the social hall. Young and old, family groups and singles. It was like a family reunion without the Aunt Irma’s everyone hoped wouldn’t come. I received so many cards with prayers, Mass or rosary or other prayers said for me. Still others gave me thoughtful gifts and told me why they couldn’t resist getting me something. Some reminded me of how we met years ago before Epiphany was our Church home. I thank you all for making my 80th birthday so special. Words cannot express how I feel about all of you. I hope I will always live up to the title of Mom that many of you call me. Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! God bless you all. Can you imagine what it will be like when our Epiphany Family meets in Heaven? Mary Queen of Heaven and Earth Pray for us.
Carole “Mom” Palka
Along with those thanks, I also have a few words of thanks from Kevin and Cheryl Hernandez and family. They are so appreciative of all the support they have received from you as one of their daughters makes her Perpetual Vows as a Religious Sister with the Home of the Mother. Your prayers have been given in abundance and you have given support in other ways as well. In a perfect world, money wouldn’t be an issue, yet it is when trying to get a large family to fly all the way to Spain for such an important ceremony. You all helped them by getting loaves of bread and other foods that were baked by the family with love and prayers. You slipped them cards with donations, both in person and anonymously. Your generosity is beyond amazing. 10 members of the Hernandez family will be able to make the trip and none will be left behind due to lack of funds! With that in mind, please remember to pray for Sister Rachel Maria of the Virginal Heart of Mary on Sunday, September 8 at noon local time, when she will make her final profession at the Convento de las Bernarda in Alcala de Henares, Spain. To help you pray for her, we are hoping to have it live-streamed in the parish social hall immediately following the 10:30 Mass, so plan to stay and watch next week! If you won’t be there, you may still be able to follow from a home computer or even from your phone wherever you may be (unless you are driving!). A link can be found on the Epiphany website.
As I write this, hurricane Dorian is threating Florida and the airlines have re-routed the Hernandez’ flights. They were going to drive to Miami and fly out of there on Monday, September 2 but have now been issued new tickets out of Tampa (God is good!) without any extra charge. Plus, there return flight was to end in Miami where they were going to park the van and drive home but since the van won’t be there, the airline is flying them back to Tampa as well, again with no extra cost to them! Their whole reason for flying out of Miami even though it was inconvenient was that there was a significant savings on each ticket. Now they get the savings and the convenience, and certainly that is due to your prayers for them! Muchas Gracias! You also know that my mom and I are flying out of Tampa on Wednesday (it was not worth it for just two of us to drive to Miami!) to be there for the ceremony. I have been praying the Mass prayers Ad repellendas tempestates (To Avert Storms) so we shouldn’t have any problems, either. But keep praying anyway! These Mass prayers can be found as number 21 on page 1351 of the Angelus Press Missal. The Collect is: A domo tua, quǽsumus Dómine, spiritáles nequítiæ repellántur: et aëriárum discédat malígnitas tempestátum. Per Dóminum nostrum... (We beseech Thee, O Lord, that all spiritual wickedness may be driven away from Thy house, and that the fury of the storms may pass away. Through our Lord...) The Secret is: Offérimus tibi, Dómine, laudes et múnera, pro concéssis benefíciis grátias referéntes, et pro concedéndis semper supplíciter deprecántes. Per Dóminum... (O Lord, we offer up to Thee praises and gifts, giving thanks for the blessings bestowed, and ever with humility praying that more may be granted. Through our Lord...) And the Post Communion prayer is: Omnípotens sempitérne Deus, qui nos et castigándo sanas et ignoscéndo consérvas: præsta supplícibus tuis; ut et tranquillitátibus hujus optátæ consolatiónis lætémur, et dono tuæ pietátis semper utámur. Per Dóminum... (Almighty, everlasting God, Who by chastising healest and by forgiving dost preserve, grant that we who humbly pray to Thee, may rejoice in the peace and consolation which we desire and ever enjoy the gift of Thy mercy. Through our Lord...).
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The Eucharist Really Is Jesus
A very prominent Jesuit priest, who used to be the editor-in-chief of the Jesuit’s atrocious weekly magazine, America, decided to weigh in on the recent Pew Research poll, which showed that 69% of self-reported Catholics think that the Eucharist is simply a symbol. Fr. Thomas Reese, SJ, wrote an article in the National Catholic Reporter, a supposedly-Catholic newspaper which is so bad that it makes America look Catholic, which seemed to make the Pew poll’s reported 1/3 of Catholics who actually believe what the Church teaches regarding the Eucharist out to be the ones who got it wrong! Here is just one of many problems with his presentation. “I personally find the theology of transubstantiation unintelligible…” What this poor priest doesn’t get is that it doesn’t matter one whit what he finds unintelligible or what he finds completely within his mental capacity to grasp. What matters is what is true. And Holy Mother Church has taught the truth on this subject, which should be enough for him to accept even what he doesn’t comprehend. Here are some teachings from the Council of Trent on the Eucharist. See how many “anathemas” Fr. Reese and oh, so many other Catholic clergy and laity would rack up if anyone were keeping count. Oh, wait, a very important Somebody is keeping count.
ON THE MOST HOLY SACRAMENT OF THE EUCHARIST
CANON I.-If any one denieth, that, in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, are contained truly, really, and substantially, the body and blood together with the soul and divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and consequently the whole Christ; but saith that He is only therein as in a sign, or in figure, or virtue; let him be anathema.
CANON II.-If any one saith, that, in the sacred and holy sacrament of the Eucharist, the substance of the bread and wine remains conjointly with the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ, and denieth that wonderful and singular conversion of the whole substance of the bread into the Body, and of the whole substance of the wine into the Blood-the species Only of the bread and wine remaining-which conversion indeed the Catholic Church most aptly calls Transubstantiation; let him be anathema.
CANON III.-If any one denieth, that, in the venerable sacrament of the Eucharist, the whole Christ is contained under each species, and under every part of each species, when separated; let him be anathema.
CANON IV.-If any one saith, that, after the consecration is completed, the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ are not in the admirable sacrament of the Eucharist, but (are there) only during the use, whilst it is being taken, and not either before or after; and that, in the hosts, or consecrated particles, which are reserved or which remain after communion, the true Body of the Lord remaineth not; let him be anathema.
CANON V.-If any one saith, either that the principal fruit of the most holy Eucharist is the remission of sins, or, that other effects do not result therefrom; let him be anathema.
CANON VI.-If any one saith, that, in the holy sacrament of the Eucharist, Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, is not to be adored with the worship, even external of latria; and is, consequently, neither to be venerated with a special festive solemnity, nor to be solemnly borne about in processions, according to the laudable and universal rite and custom of holy church; or, is not to be proposed publicly to the people to be adored, and that the adorers thereof are idolators; let him be anathema.
CANON VII.-If any one saith, that it is not lawful for the sacred Eucharist to be reserved in the sacrarium, but that, immediately after consecration, it must necessarily be distributed amongst those present; or, that it is not lawful that it be carried with honour to the sick; let him be anathema.
CANON VIII.-lf any one saith, that Christ, given in the Eucharist, is eaten spiritually only, and not also sacramentally and really; let him be anathema.
CANON IX.-If any one denieth, that all and each of Christ's faithful of both sexes are bound, when they have attained to years of discretion, to communicate every year, at least at Easter, in accordance with the precept of holy Mother Church; let him be anathema.
CANON X.-If any one saith, that it is not lawful for the celebrating priest to communicate himself; let him be anathema.
CANON XI.-lf any one saith, that faith alone is a sufficient preparation for receiving the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist; let him be anathema. And for fear lest so great a sacrament may be received unworthily, and so unto death and condemnation, this holy Synod ordains and declares, that sacramental confession, when a confessor may be had, is of necessity to be made beforehand, by those whose conscience is burthened with mortal sin, how contrite even soever they may think themselves. But if any one shall presume to teach, preach, or obstinately to assert, or even in public disputation to defend the contrary, he shall be thereupon excommunicated.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Monstrance Update and More!
Earlier in the year, Ash Wednesday, to be exact, I took up a special collection for the purchase of a new monstrance. The monstrance, in case you don’t know, is the metal object which holds the Sacred Host during Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament and Eucharistic processions. When the monstrance is shaped like a cross, which is the most common but not exclusive shape, the Blessed Sacrament is held by a circular receptacle where the vertical and horizontal beams meet. Often there are rays of light shown emanating from the Host (obviously made of metal) signifying that Christ, who called Himself the Light of the World is truly present. The round Host with light rays shining around it looks like the Sun whenever kids draw it, a fitting image, for the Son is truly there. No matter how many jewels or images or gold or silver make up the monstrance, the attention is always brought to Our Lord. The beauty and dignity of the monstrance is there solely to show reverence and respect to Him Who is present, Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity, in the Sacred Host which it holds.
I did not have a particular monstrance in mind to purchase but the one we use now, and we use it daily, is worn down to the base metal and, though functional still, is no longer as worthy a vessel as our parish is capable of using. So after seeing how much we collected for a new one, I started searching for the best within our means. It is no easy task, as there is no shop with hundreds or even just dozens of monstrances sitting on display to choose from. Shopping is done by looking at tiny photos in a catalog. But then some parishioners said they were taking a trip to Rome and there are indeed shops like that there! They spent a good amount of time and energy going from one liturgical store to another, evaluating the quality and beauty of those items in stock and pouring through even more catalogs. They sent photos and suggestions and, when all was said and done, they ordered one for us! Thank you, faithful family!
And yet, we are still using the old monstrance. Why? Because the monstrances are each custom made after they are ordered unless you are able to get one right off the showroom floor. The manufacturing is not done as the order comes in, either. Only once or twice a year do they gear up the machines and then produce all of those which have been paid for. So we wait. The same process is used when purchasing tabernacles and other expensive but long lasting sacred objects. So now you know that your donations were used as you desired and the monstrance will arrive when it arrives.
The next little bit of information is about what females reveal or don’t reveal about their birthdays. Little girls let you know how old they are to the nearest half-year, as in “I’m not five, I’m five and a half!” Give them a few more years and they want to be older, so a 16 year old may try to pass herself off as 18. After a few more years, they stop telling their age and cringe when the kids blurt it out in public. Then, for the longest part of life, women fudge the numbers downward, so that they rarely leave a particular decade but stay at the _9th year. But there eventually comes a time when they start bragging about their age. It can be announced to one and all with a smile rather than a glare. My mother has reached that stage of her life. She turned 80 last week and doesn’t mind if the whole world knows. In fact, she wants the whole world to celebrate that milestone with her! She is now part of the group that can joke with the “young” women, “You’re 74? Why, you are just a kid. I have bloomers older than you!” We celebrate parishioner birthdays at the parish potluck every third Wednesday evening, so if you want to come join her for a birthday celebration this Wednesday, August 21, we begin to eat at 6:30 pm. And guess who bakes the birthday cakes and is doing so even this time? Yep, Mom. And, for newcomers to the parish, you probably already met her if you stay after the 10:30 Sunday Mass or attend the 8:00 am daily Mass even if you didn’t know it. Her name is Carole and she tries to greet all the people she doesn’t recognize and welcome them to the parish (which she has been attending for nearly 30 years). She also bakes fantastic desserts for most of our parish functions, too. Happy Birthday, Mom!
Don’t wear her out with too much partying, though. I need her strong and healthy in a couple of weeks. We are traveling together to Madrid, Spain, to witness the Perpetual Vows of Sister Rachel Maria. We fly out the evening of September 4 and return the following Wednesday evening. Fr. Mangiafico has graciously agreed to take over in my absence.
There is one more thing to put on your calendars, too. The first full week of October is our diocese’s annual Priest Convocation and, to make sure you don’t miss the priests while we are gone, I have arranged to have Fr. Sean Kopczynski, MSJB, a priest from the Missionarii Sancti Joannis Baptistae order, give a parish Mission that week! More information will be showing up soon.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: The End of the Retreat
Please bear with me as I write one last article about my recent retreat. While I was at Our Lady of Good Help Shrine in Wisconsin, I found out about several more places within driving distance which I still had time to explore. The nearest was the National Shrine of St. Joseph in Green Bay. It was less than 2 miles from where I was staying, so off I went. Imagine! A National Shrine to the foster father of Jesus so close and I almost missed it! I couldn’t wait to get there. I should have missed it. It would be an understatement to say that it was disappointing. It was attached to a church on the campus of St. Norbert College. Photos of the church showed how this once beautiful building had been twice wreckovated. The National Shrine consisted of two rooms leading off from the church. The first one was octagonal with high, empty white walls and a glass ceiling. Bench seating all around and two kneelers in the middle. Maybe 20 feet across. Through that room was a tiny, low-ceilinged room/niche just big enough for a very nice statue of St. Joseph, which the people in the first room could see through the open gates separating the two rooms. That was it. Had I not seen it, I would have had much better images in my mind of what it must have been like.
Next, I drove to the National Shrine of St. Philomena in Briggsville, by means of some of the worst roads I have ever been on. Fortunately, the whole area is beautiful so it was a nice ride other than that. When I got to the Shrine, I passed by before realizing that I missed it, even with GPS telling me that I had arrived. The Shrine was a grotto type of structure with a statue of the Saint, a couple of candles, and 3 small, simple stained glass windows. It was next to St. Mary Help of Christians, a small church with a well-kept cemetery in the back. In the church, the Blessed Sacrament was not in the sanctuary. Off to the left, there was a small room with some pews, the tabernacle, and a relic of St. Philomena. Nobody was there. It was a good place to stop and pray and the grotto would be accessible anytime, even if the church was closed, so that was nice. And, compared with the National Shrine I just left, I guess this one was pretty good!
From there I drove to Erin, to locate the Holy Hill, on which is the National Shrine of Mary, Help of Christians. By this time, I wasn’t expecting much. But from a long way off, I saw that I was wrong. I spotted a distant church high on a hill while still many miles away. Whoever put it in that spot sure knew how to make an impression on anyone traveling through the area. This Romanesque minor basilica called out to one and all, “Come and pray. God is here!” This was truly a place of pilgrimage, a place of prayer. It was beautiful but groups of people were being turned away from the doors to the main church! I was allowed immediate entrance but everyone else was being questioned and sent back down the hill. It turns out that there was a funeral Mass scheduled in about two hours and only the family was being admitted. And the priest, of course! So, after crashing the viewing and giving my condolences to the family, I went out to see what else was there. There were signs pointing to a lookout tower, the door to which had a sign stating, “The tower has 178 steps. Good luck!!” I think it was the second exclamation point that convinced me to take up the challenge. So up I went. The stairs were so narrow at first that had someone been coming back down, we could not have passed each other. In another place the stairs got a bit wider. Some places they were very steep. In one place they turned into a spiral staircase. I made it to the top and the view was spectacular.
The next day I had planned to head down to New Orleans to see my newly ordained priest friend but discovered (I had not paid any attention to the news during my retreat) that a hurricane was heading his way so I called my cousin who is a priest in Michigan and made my way up and around Lake Michigan and spent a couple of nights with him and his surprised family. Then I headed back home, traveling by the smaller back roads instead of Interstates. I didn’t have time to stop and see any other family or friends along the way but enjoyed the places the GPS took me. Once I faced signs saying, “Road Closed Ahead” and drove 19 miles on the detour of about 1 mile. Less than two miles after getting back to the original road there was another sign, another closing, another detour. This time I was taken more than 23 miles west before the detour turned south. I wasn’t about to head back 23 more miles to the road only to see if it was closed in a third, fourth or fifth spot, so I changed course. That was my way home. Go with the flow. Sometimes I was on farm roads, sometimes on highways, and always accompanied by St. John Paul praying the rosary and Bishop Sheen teaching catechism. 3725 miles of spiritual refreshment.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Our Lady of Good Help
As I have been giving the highlights of my journey to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help for a nice little retreat, I left off last week in Chicago. I failed to mention that before heading to that city, I had hoped to purchase a set of three beautiful old altars being salvaged from a closed church, but the spire behind the main altar turned out to be two feet too tall to fit in our church, so the search goes on. Though passing through Chicago, I didn’t want to take the time necessary for a meaningful stop at St. John Cantius, as much as I would have liked to. Neither did I visit any cemeteries to ask how the residents would be voting next year, although each time I passed by one, I prayed that those lying there could at least rest in peace outside of election seasons. No, when I left I was hurrying to get to the retreat center before it closed for the day, something which never actually happened anyway, because I misjudged the timing and wound up getting there too late. That was probably because I stopped at Rest Area 52. There was supposed to be some sort of mass storming of the area by crazy Farcebook people looking for aliens or something like that, but I didn’t see any fences or armed guards trying to keep anyone out. It was only after I got back home and back on a computer that I discovered that the aliens are in Rest Area 51, which is in another state. Looking back on it, I am skeptical that I was incorrect. All the people up there were driving the speed limit, whether on the highway or in the city, even though the limit in every city is only 25 mph, so it may be that they are all aliens, and are just hiding out in the open. Such strange behavior... By the time I reached Green Bay, which is a short drive from Champion, where Our Lady appeared to Sr. Adele Brise in 1859 (a year after She appeared to St. Bernadette in Lourdes), I had listened to 16 hours worth of Bishop Fulton Sheen tapes, prayed countless rosaries, celebrated Mass at and visited many different churches, and answered only a handful of phone calls, text messages and emails (replying while stopped, I might add), most of which required a simple, “I am on retreat. Please contact me again when I return.” Some of you asked me how I could withstand such a long, grueling road trip. This was blissful!
The Shrine is nothing like Lourdes, which, though magnificent, is surrounded by shops and city and clutter. This one is out in the middle of nowhere and it takes quite good directions to find it. It is surrounded by cornfields and not much else. It was just a couple of acres of safety in the midst of fire in the past (all people, animals, and plants on the church property survived unscathed the 1871 Peshtigo fire, which was put out by miraculous rains on October 9, the anniversary of Our Lady’s apparition to Sr. Adele) and continues to be a place of spiritual safety to this day. The priests there are the Fathers of Mercy, and one of them even remembers meeting a couple of Epiphany parishioners when they were up there once! They just completed a large conference center (where they are hosting Scott Hahn later this month) at the front. There are a few small buildings, including a museum where you can find the history of the Apparition, a gift shop, and lunchroom, and, of course, a small church built on the site where Our Blessed Mother appeared and told the youthful Adele, “Teach them (the children) their catechism, how to sign themselves with the sign of the Cross, and how to approach the sacraments; that is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing. I will help you.” The rear acres of the property are manicured into a large grass park with two sets of Stations of the Cross, one straight down the middle (for those with mobility issues) and one more spread out, along with a Rosary walk, along the long outside path.
I asked a few questions of the lady in the gift shop and soon was introduced to a man who, she assured me, “knows everything about the Shrine and won’t stop telling you stories until I come to rescue you.” She was right. For a good two hours or more this elderly gentleman sat and fascinated me with stories about his childhood visiting the Shrine and how his uncle was healed there. In a nutshell, his uncle was working on an engine when it fell on him, crushing one of his legs. The doctor saved it, but he was never able to walk without a pair of crutches again. But one day, while at the Shrine, (in the first part of last century) he threw down his crutches and declared that he had been healed. After years of not walking on his own, he insisted on walking back to Green Bay as a means of thanking Our Blessed Mother for this miracle. It took him seven hours and proved that he did not even experience any muscle atrophy after being crippled for so long. One of his crutches is still on display at the Shrine. His story is told in the movie at the museum and in the books about the Shrine, but I got to hear it in person. More to come next week.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Yes, I was on a Driving Retreat
Evidently, some of you got a little worried about me a couple of weeks ago when I seemingly just disappeared. But the simple explanation is that I had a last-minute opportunity to take some time off and I took advantage of it! Fr. Vincent thought he might be able to spell me for a bit after his summer assignment was completed but couldn’t be sure until he returned. When he showed up one Saturday morning after the Mass, he gave me dates that he could take my Masses, starting with the next day’s 10:30 am and continuing for more than a week. I was not about to pass up this opportunity, so Sunday I celebrated the 7:30 am Mass and took off driving (with a CD of Pope John Paul II praying the Rosary in Latin plus 24 hours of talks by Bishop Fulton Sheen to help me make drive time retreat time) toward the Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help in Wisconsin, which I wrote about last week. It really was that simple. The traffic was terrible. I didn’t have my phone set to GPS mode since I was planning on simply driving north on I-75 for the entire day, but after the second time I got stuck in traffic due to crashes ahead, I turned it on to see if it could plot an alternative route for me the next time. Over and over I heard, “Slowdown ahead. You are still on the fastest route.” Crash after crash after crash. Only once did I ever get re-routed around a major crash. I drove an hour or so down tiny, twisting roads through a beautiful part of Georgia to bypass a few miles of stopped traffic. At least I was moving and I enjoyed it enough that I later decided to stay off the interstate the whole way back down to Florida for a longer but much more interesting return trip.
Early Monday I pulled up to St. Mary in Athens, Tennessee, and, after their morning NO Mass, asked if I could celebrate a private TLM. The pastor, it turns out, is a transplanted Florida boy who keeps up with many of the goings on in Florida Church circles, and he graciously welcomed me. (Yes, I had searched ahead of time for parishes along my route where the TLM was celebrated, though I had expected to get far past this one on Sunday!) After spending several hours, both in great conversation with the pastor and with Our Lord, I took off for the one and only stop I had planned (two days prior!) other than my destination. A childhood friend of mine, whom I have not seen in a number of years now, lives in Decatur, Indiana. I spent a couple of days with him and his wife and celebrated Mass at what, especially for a small town, is a very large and beautiful church, St. Mary of the Assumption. During my stay we also took a trip into Fort Wayne, searching for a small community of Franciscans. We found the church we were looking for and found a priest inside praying. He was from a local parish but said he stops by there regularly to spend time in prayer. He told us that the church had been purchased and was being restored by a lay group after it had been abandoned by the diocese and was about to be demolished. Their ministry is saving once-beautiful old churches. It was being set up in such a way as to accommodate the community of cloistered nuns who were now there. We never found any of the Franciscan brothers or priests and it wasn’t “visiting hours” for the nuns but it was a very worthwhile trip. There is, of course, much more to the story than what I can relay here.
When I took my leave of my friends, I drove next through Chicago, where I stopped by the US Provincial Offices of the Institute of Christ the King, Sovereign Priest, which is the order one of our seminarians, Joshua, belongs to. He, by the way, arrived Epiphany during my absence, as he had a few weeks to visit his family before heading back overseas for further studies. Canon Commins, who celebrated Latin Mass once at Epiphany when his family attended here (his father was working at Macdill AFB) before moving back to France, is assigned there but he wasn’t in the day I stopped by. But I was still warmly welcomed and got a tour of the place. I got to see the major restoration work being done to their huge, beautiful church whose roof and interior were completely destroyed by fire some years back. It was absolutely amazing. And, of course, everybody there knew Joshua, for he had been up there for his first year of seminary formation. I think I may have been given extra special attention just by throwing his name around! (You know Canon Commins? That’s nice. You were his parents’ pastor? That’s even better. You know Joshua Heiman? Why didn’t you say so? Come on in and stay a while!) That bodes well for our future priest!
Somewhere in Chicago I got stuck at a toll plaza with a boom gate arm which wouldn’t raise up for me. The car in the lane next to me had the same issue but for half the time. Google maps timeline shows that it took 6 minutes for it to get raised, but it sure seemed like a lot longer. Anyway, there will be more next week. Stay tuned.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: About My Retreat
Last weekend, you might have noticed that I wasn’t around the parish. After completing his summer assignment, Fr. Vincent Capuano came by the sacristy on Saturday morning and told me that he would be ready, willing, and able to take over the Masses for the next week or so if I would like to get away. I jumped at the chance and started planning a retreat. The following day I celebrated the 7:30 am Mass and took off driving toward Wisconsin, to the National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help. Though I will explain more about my trip and other stops in the future, for now I will just give you the background of this amazing Shrine, taken from the Shrine’s facebook page. There is, of course, much more to the story than is presented in this short summary.
About The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion, Wisconsin, USA
Lourdes, Fatima, Guadalupe and Champion all are part of a select group of places worldwide where the Blessed Virgin Mary is believed to have appeared. In America, The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help at Champion covers the peace-filled holy ground deemed ‘worthy of belief’ by authority of the Catholic Church, that Mary, the mother of Jesus, appeared.
Identifying herself as ‘The Queen of Heaven who prays for the conversion of sinners,’ Mary appeared in October 1859 to a Belgian immigrant woman, Adele Brise, on the grounds of Champion Shrine, when the town was known as Robinsonville.
According to the direct accounts of those who worked with Adele throughout the years of her mission work, she was instructed, in a series of locutions by Our Lady, to ‘make a general confession, pray and offer communion for the conversion of sinners and to gather the children in the wild country to teach them what they needed to know for their salvation.’ She further instructed Adele, to ‘teach the children their catechism, how to ‘make the sign of the cross’ and how to ‘approach the sacraments.’ Mary ended by saying: ‘That is what I wish you to do. Go and fear nothing, I will help you.’
These locutions by Our Lady of Good Help became the foundation of a life-long legacy of catechetical mission work by Brise with local families. She traveled on foot in a 50-mile radius around the present-day shrine to teach and instruct as she was told by Mary. Adele's father later built a chapel on the apparition site where she also began her teaching work.
On October 8, 1871, twelve years to the date of Mary's last appearance, a Midwestern drought caused two of the worst fires in America’s history – one in Chicago and the other in Peshtigo, Wisconsin. The same drought caused an inferno that began raging through the rural area, threatening the chapel in the town of Robinsonville. Local families who had been involved with Adele Brise as part of her mission work in catechesis traveled during the fire to the chapel on the Shrine’s grounds, many with babies, small children and farm animals, to pray the rosary.
On their knees and in procession all night long, as the areas near the Shrine were reduced to ashes, those who gathered at the Shrine prayed the rosary, asking Our Lady of Good Help for her intercession with her son, Jesus, to save them from the fire. Their prayers were answered when the rains came and extinguished the fire just as it reached the chapel and Shrine grounds.
In Champion Shrine history, this event marked what many believe to be one of the first graces granted through intercessory prayer with Our Lady of Good Help, to Jesus.
This and other miraculous instances at Champion Shrine continue to be a harbinger of hope for thousands who travel on pilgrimage to pray for help and healing. To this day, many descendants of those whose lives were spared during the October 8, 1871 fire come to celebrate the miracle of the fire on that day annually, praying the rosary all night long into the following day, Oct. 9, the date historians believe marks the anniversary of the last appearance of Mary at Champion in 1859.
In December 2010, after a period of prayerful discernment during which he reviewed years of research and investigation by expert Mariologists, The Most Rev. David L. Ricken, Bishop of Green Bay, determined it to be ‘worthy of belief’ that the Blessed Virgin Mary appeared to Adele Brise.
On August 15, 2016, The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops declared Champion a ‘National Shrine,’ by formal decree, distinguishing ‘The National Shrine of Our Lady of Good Help’ as the first and only Catholic Shrine in America with a Church-approved Marian Apparition Site. This and other international media coverage of events that have occurred continue to draw thousands to Champion Shrine.
As you might imagine, I have some real stories to tell about this retreat. So watch the bulletin for more in the weeks to come.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Trip to the Heart Doctor
A few months ago the priests of the diocese received word that the bishop had teamed up with a top-notch cardiologist to give us an opportunity for a full cardiac exam if we wished to take advantage of it. I ignored the invitation, as I am a male. An unmarried male. As in, a man without a wife to nag him into going to the doctor. My last “real” doctor, as in the one who gave me Tamiflu when I got the flu one time and who made sure I had antibiotics whenever my normally bad sinuses went into full-blown infectious assault, passed away five or six years ago. Other than some allergy relief medication and another dose of sinusitis repellant, which has been swiftly supplied by a doctor from the church pews, I haven’t seen much of a need to have anything checked out. Our Lady of Good Health takes care of me. But then the diocese sent a nurse, Pat Mullarkey, out to give us a sales pitch. She had the initials RN and BSN after her name. I know the “RN” stands for “Registered Nurse” and I assume the other initials stand for the mandatory training needed by any nurse before dealing with the likes of me. (Let it sink in, you’ll get it.) At her presentation, she mentioned that quite a number of priests had already gone through with the screening and a couple were found with unexpected, undiagnosed, but potentially serious heart conditions which necessitated immediate action.
I signed up for a screening. I don’t know why, exactly. I always figure that I have to die of something sometime, so let nature take its course. Plus, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. But I signed up. For four hours worth of tests. A list of do’s and don’ts was sent to me. No eating or drinking before the tests. No coffee from midnight. Early morning appointments were out of the question because of my Mass schedule. I couldn’t very well fast from Holy Communion, though, and still celebrate the two Masses of the morning. I got the OK to receive the Eucharist but was told no other food. No problem there, fasting comes with the job. But no coffee? That’s just cruel. I should have done this during Lent. A few days before my appointment, I was on the phone with an out-of-state cousin and she mentioned that her favorite priest had been out of action for a few months after an emergency heart operation. He never knew he had issues until his bishop asked his priests to get tested—wait, that sounds familiar—and he wound up going straight into surgery. I told her what I was about to do. “What if,” she asked, “the liberal bishops are doing this as cover to get rid of the conservative priests?” Dang. Why put that into my head? Like they could be so evil. It is to laugh. Ha ha...heh..um..gulp.
The morning of the tests I was met at the doctor’s office by nurse Mullarkey. She was already there with one of the youngest priests of our diocese and he was sweating and breathing hard, having just come from one of his tests. Hmmm. I almost had a heart attack just pondering going through whatever it was that he just did. They took me to a little room where they checked vital signs and hooked up wires to my chest to see if I had a heart. Back to the waiting room. The nurse and other priest had disappeared. I was sitting there, confident that I was in great health. Pulse? Good. Blood pressure? Good. Weight? Just 18 inches too short. But then a man came out to tell me that I had to go get a CAT scan right away. “Where’s your nurse?” he asked as he lead me to the door. “Gone? Well, you have to go to that building right now,” he said, pointing across the parking lot, “even without her. Did you drive yourself here? You might want to take your car. We normally walk but you might want to drive...” He seemed afraid that I was going to collapse just walking across a parking lot. I somehow survived the journey, got the scan, and returned to the building without keeling over. As I walked back in, I spotted the nurse and young priest and went to join them. But before I could even get comfortable in the chair, a nurse came out beckoning me to come. “The doctor wants to go over the test results with you right away,” she called. Yikes! What in the world was wrong that he was already looking at them?
I went in and the doctor introduced himself and as I shook his hand he said, “How did you pronounce your name? I didn’t quite catch it.” He was not expecting “Palka”. They had called the wrong priest. I was just the only one looking like a priest (the instructions said to dress comfortably, so I was wearing my cassock) but they really wanted the “incognito” priest. I don’t know how he fared for I was having other tests done when he got finished with the doctor, but eventually it was really my turn to see the results. I found out that, probably due to my obviously marvelous exercise regimen and carefully monitored diet (the cassock is heavy, not me!), my heart is in great shape and there is no plaque in my arteries. Whew! Just what I expected...
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A Note From Sister Rachel Maria
You all know that we currently have two young men currently studying to be priests, Joshua Heiman, who is studying for the Institute of Christ the King Sovereign Priest, and Esteban Merkt, who is studying for US Military Archdiocese and is being sponsored by the St. Augustine Diocese. We also have several young ladies who have been seriously contemplating entering Religious Life. A couple are even in the first stages of formal discernment. But later this year we will be blessed to have one who has completed her discernment period, who has already spent years as a Sister under temporary vows and will now be making those vows permanent. This is a VERY BIG THING! Sister Rachel Maria (Hernandez) sent the following note to her family and I received permission to share some of the more explanatory parts with you, her parish family. Enjoy!
Hello [Epiphany] Family!!
I hope you are all doing very well. It's been a very long time since I've seen or spoken with most of you! I would have liked to write to each one of you individually but it would be impossible. But know that I've been keeping all of you in my thoughts and prayers and I hope things are going well for each one of you in your lives and that you are happy.
As you know in 2009 I entered the community of the Servant Sisters of the Home of the Mother, a religious community based in Spain, because I believed that God was asking me to surrender my whole life to Him. As this is a very serious commitment there is quite a long process of formation and discernment. I was in "training" if you like as a candidate for 3 years until I moved to Spain in 2012, and officially took the habit and entered the community as a novice that summer. For 2 years I did more intense "training" until summer of 2014 I made my vows for the first time. (In the religious life three vows are taken: of poverty, chastity, and obedience...as a sign of the commitment of our entire life to God. And in our community as well we take a 4th vow, to defend the Eucharist and our Blessed Mother the Virgin Mary in and with our lives.) After making our vows we can be sent to the different communities that we have in different parts of the world, in order to spread the message of God's love and help people in any way we are able. So for the past 5 years I've been living and working in different communities, mostly in different parts of Spain, until last year I moved here to Ireland, and am now living in Mitchelstown, near Cork in the south of Ireland.
Anyway, that in a very brief summarized way has been my life for the past 10 years, and I am very very happy!! Now finally after 5 years of what we call "temporal" vows, I will be making this coming September 8th my final or perpetual vows, which means I will be formally surrendering my life totally to God forever, even though I already did so in my heart a long time ago! It's going to be beautiful ceremony in Madrid, Spain, and several other Sisters who have followed the same process as I have over these past several years will also be making their perpetual vows along with me. It's the equivalent to a wedding, if you like, only we don't say "until death do us part" because it lasts for all eternity!! And we have this ceremony on September 8th, which is the day we celebrate the Blessed Virgin Mary's birthday, as a sign that we give our lives to her because she is the best one to help us love God and others, fulfill our mission in life, and reach Heaven.
So I would love for you to be able to come to the ceremony, I'm sure you've already heard about it from my mom and dad, and they can give you more of the practical details. And even if you would not be able to come, please keep me and the other Sisters in your prayers during these next few months and especially on that day!! I keep praying for all of you every day!
With lots of love, God bless,
Sr. Rachel María (Rachel Lee Hernández)
So now her family members are making plans to get over to Spain for the big day. Since there isn’t really anything that Sister Rachel Maria needs, the greatest “Profession gift” that she could receive (other than prayers, obviously!) is having her family present for her vows. A couple of her older sisters are out of the house and independent and so are able to make it there on their own but Kevin and Cheryl, her parents, are trying to bring five more of their younger dependent children along with them for the ceremony. Supporting vocations is a big part of this parish’s modus operandi and this is a great opportunity for you all to help the family fly to Spain and, by doing so, to help support our first (of many more to come!) Perpetual Profession among our parish families. You know the drill. Homemade breads will be offered this weekend and a couple more times this summer. Take some home when you make a donation towards airfare as a gift to Sister Rachel. Thank you for your continued generosity to our children who give themselves to God through Holy Mother Church!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Father’s Day and Corpus Christi
Although this is not a Catholic Feast Day, in the secular world we are celebrating a very important day. Father’s Day. Being a priest Father myself, I may be a bit biased, but I think that this is a great feast day! We have had our Father’s Day Mass cards available for the past month and I hope you have taken advantage of them, sending your father a loving note of prayer, something he certainly needs more than a new tie! At Dictionary.com there is a short story explaining the origins of Father’s Day. I think you might enjoy reading it.
The Origin (And Grammar) Of Father’s Day
While Mother’s Day became an official holiday in 1914, Father’s Day took a little longer to be considered a national holiday. And its origin, sadly, lies in two, unrelated tragic events. How did Father’s Day begin? About six months after the Monongah mining disaster of 1907, in which the small West Virginia town lost over 350 men, Grace Golden Clayton organized an event to honor the fathers killed in the catastrophe—including her own. On the other side of the country, Sondra Smart Dodd, whose mother died in childbirth, had a similar father-related thought. Inspired by a Mother’s Day sermon she attended in 1909, Dodd believed there should be a corresponding holiday to celebrate fathers. After all, she and her five siblings had been raised by her father and Civil War veteran, William Jackson Smart. Dodd successfully gained support for her idea, and the first Father’s Day was celebrated by Washington State in 1910 in June, the month of her father’s birthday. Though President Calvin Coolidge publicly supported the holiday in 1924 and President Lyndon B. Johnson issued a proclamation naming the third Sunday in June Father’s Day, it wasn’t until 1972 that President Richard Nixon officially signed Father’s Day as a permanent, national holiday into law.
Why is the apostrophe in Father’s Day singular? People often wonder why Father’s Day has an apostrophe before the S and not after. We’re celebrating all fathers on this day … not just one, right? The quick answer is that Mother’s Day set a precedent on this fuzzy grammatical issue of apostrophe placement. With the apostrophe before the S, Father’s Day “belongs” to each individual father. If the apostrophe fell after the S, the meaning slightly changes. That would be a holiday “belonging” to fathers as a collective, implying we’re prioritizing honoring all fathers on the occasion over our own father. The holiday April Fools’ Day, for example, takes the possessive plural (fools’) rather than the singular (fool’s). Perhaps this is because the individual fool doesn’t matter here in the way that each individual father matters to his children.
With that in mind, our prayers go out to all of our fathers, individually and as a group. From Sunday through the rest of the month we will be praying for all fathers, especially those whose names you have written and have been placed next to the tabernacle. May God give each of them whatever graces and blessings he needs to fulfill his role and bring his family to Heaven!
In the Church later this week we are celebrating a very special feast, too. Corpus Christi is this Thursday. For many, many, many decades (since an indult dated November 25, 1885) the United States has had the exceptional mandate to celebrate this feast of the Body of Christ on the proper Thursday (the Thursday following Trinity Sunday) as well as celebrating it again on the following Sunday as an external solemnity, at least at the main Mass. We will be doing that once again this year but with the added solemnity of having a Solemn High Mass at 10:30 am next Sunday, followed by a procession with the Blessed Sacrament. Corpus Christi commemorates the Institution of the Holy Eucharist. A young Belgium religious Sister named Juliana (now Saint Juliana, + 1258), who had a great love of Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament, was the one most influential in getting this feast day started. Although there was already a feast day commemorating the Institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood (Holy Thursday or Maundy Thursday), on that day the immanent Passion of Our Lord seemed to overshadow His giving of Himself in the Eucharist, so the new feast of Corpus Christi was not seen as “competition” in any way. Of course, there is a whole story that goes along with the eventual proclamation of Corpus Christi as a universal feast day. The story began with a German priest who doubted that Jesus was actually present in the Eucharist and so Our Lord revealed the Truth to him through a Eucharistic miracle as he was celebrating Mass. The blood-stained corporal and the Sacred Host are still on display in the cathedral of Orvieto, Italy.
So here we have two feasts, one secular and one of the Faith, in which fathers (even a not so faithful one) play an important role. The role of fathers in the family and in the Priesthood has been severely denigrated in our society. But in times when God and His designs are mocked and/or despised, the greatest of Saints rise up. The next great Saint, believe it or not, could be the one who raised you or married you. Pray for him! While you are at it, please pray for all fathers, whether they obtained their fatherhood through biology, adoption, spiritual relations, or the Sacrament of Holy Orders. Fathers are essential, as we see most clearly in the Person of God the Father, the perfect pattern for all fathers.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka