Death; and Service at the Altar
From the Pastor: Death; and Service at the Altar
On Monday, February 7, at 11:00 there will be a Novus Ordo Funeral Mass at Our Lady of Perpetual Help for Hector Buria, who may have been Epiphany’s oldest parishioner at 96 when he passed away. OLPH is the parish where he grew up and he asked to have his funeral there, as long as it wouldn’t be seen as a slight against Epiphany in any way! Of course, we are not in competition with our fellow parishes, so all is good in that regard. Any of you who attend the Saturday evening Vigil Mass probably knew him, maybe even by name, because he was one of the dedicated parishioners who was always there. His niece usually accompanied him, for his eyesight had gotten too bad for him to drive, but he wasn’t about to let that stop him from coming to Mass! He was also on the board of Epiphany Arms, the senior housing complex next door to us, and always took interest in making sure the residents there were given everything they needed. We don’t often have a weekend between the time of death and the funeral Mass to announce it, but this time we even had time for it to be mentioned in this article, so hopefully everyone who knows him will be able to make the trip to OLPH. The address is 1711 E 11th Avenue in Ybor City, Tampa. The past few months Hector has been homebound and I have been bringing him Holy Communion. After confession and Communion (and anointing several times when he thought he was not long for this world) he would tell me stories of the days gone by, always apologizing for keeping me so long but always glad I encouraged him to continue. One week he had put together an album of old newspaper stories from when, in his younger days, he was in the news. As we went through it he explained who was with him, why they were meeting or where they were going that merited him getting into the local paper, and reminisced about oh so many details about his past, things that obviously brought back good and happy memories. It was like sitting with my grandfather and hearing stories about his life. I think the article and photo he was most proud of, out of all of them (and there were a lot!) was the one when he was about five years old. I don’t remember why he was in the paper but it had his photo and a story that showed how much the times have changed for the worse, for it showed the now-lost innocence of sharing a young boy's good news, rather than crimes committed by or against him. Oh, for the good ol’ days! But even they pale in comparison to the eternity to come for those who die in God’s grace. And Hector certainly took advantage of the time he had to prepare for his Judgment Day. May his soul, and the souls of all the faithful departed, rest in peace. Amen.
On a much different topic, last Wednesday was Candlemas Day, the feast of the Purification of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We began with the special blessing of candles outside by the rectory chapel. I remember well the days when the congregation and the number of candles they brought were so small that we actually fit in the chapel for the blessing instead of being outside! This year we filled 4 tables with candles and had to put the extras on the ground. I thought, going into this liturgy, that we would have someone to chant the chants at the blessing of the candles but that we would have a low Mass once we ended the procession in the church. But we had someone volunteer to chant the Mass, too, so, at the last moment, we decided to have a high Mass. The only problem was that the altar boys we had would be taking on positions that they had never held before, but they were up to the challenge. With only one adult and three boys (and no time to practice or even divvy up the positions), we started out on the proverbial angel’s wing and a prayer. Fr. Mangiafico was also present and he became my biretta bearer! Young Landon jumped right into the position of MC, the hardest job (including the priest’s!) in the Mass. Even younger Chase and Owen had to hold the candles at the Gospel, a job that I thought they would be too small to do, for those candles get pretty heavy pretty quickly. But they toughed it out. The boys managed to complete the task of caring for the thurible even though the chains are probably longer than they are tall, assisted me at the incensations, and got the water and wine to me at the right times. Nothing got dropped, nobody got injured, and Jesus showed up for the Mass once again! I must say that I am very proud of the boys for doing such a fantastic job. Of course, they wouldn’t have done so well except that they have good training and a willing and eager attitude toward serving Our Lord. Thank you Mr. Nathe, for always encouraging the boys to know every job, even those they don’t think they will be doing for a few more years. Their mother deserves credit, too, for so often bringing them to daily Mass along with their sisters, something that is no small feat of itself. And, of course, thank you, dear parishioners, who pray for our servers on a regular basis. These boys will one day make great priests!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
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