Epiphany! Our Feast Day Cometh!
From the Pastor: Epiphany! Our Feast Day Cometh!
According to ancient tradition, the three Wise Men arrived in Bethlehem to worship the infant Lord Jesus Christ on the thirteenth day of His birth, that is, January 6 according to the current calendar. Thirty years later to the day He was baptized by John in the River Jordan. The following year on the same date He performed his first public miracle, changing water into wine at the wedding feast in Cana. According to a not-so-ancient tradition, the Catholic Women’s Club at this parish hosts an Epiphany Ball on or around the parish feast. Thank you, holy ladies, for doing so! The last two years we had a high Mass at 6:00 pm followed by a potluck dinner and dance on the actual feast day (it fell on a Wednesday in 2016 and a Friday in 2017) but it made for a long night and was horrific trying to keep the food fresh and hot and edible, especially for all those who had to show up early because they were in a choir or altar boy family. [I have in my mind the following as a best-case scenario: The meal you are cooking to bring for the potluck gets ready exactly at the time you have the whole family buckled in a ready to go. (Ha! Already I laugh.) Your normal (for a Sunday Mass) 45-minute drive to church is, on a workday, now estimated by Siri to be 1 hour and 15 minutes long. You leave at 4:00, hoping to get here by 5:00 but praying that you arrive no later than 5:30 in order to get everything set for Mass (altar boy family) or to practice the hymns and chants (choir family). Then, the Mass begins a little after 6:00 because somebody is running late and it lasts until 7:30 (or a bit later if Father rambles, err, I mean if he has a lot of very good things to say about the parish Feast Day; or if the choir sings everything in beautiful, but long, polyphony for the special occasion). Add time of prayerful thanksgiving after Mass and then the time it takes to get settled in the parish hall, and finally the blessing before the meal takes place at 7:55 pm. The last person in line gets their food about 8:35. How in the world did you all do that? Did you, instead, cook the meal in the van while on the road? Did you jump up and reheat it during the 17 minute Credo? I really cannot figure out how the food tasted so good!] This year January 6 falls on a Saturday and there are Saturday evening vigil Masses going on at 5:00 and 7:00 pm, so keeping the Ball on the actual Feast Day was impossible. That means that we get to try out a new format for the festivities. Will it be better or worse than the previous years? There is only one way to find out! I hope to see you all there at 7:00 pm on Friday, January 5. (You did get your tickets, right? The absolute last day for purchase is Sunday, December 31. $5 per person or $ 30 max per family.)
Before we get to the end of the week, though, we have to survive New Year’s Eve. I know, that’s not a Catholic Holy Day, but every once in a while someone wants to make it into one. A long time ago, in a parish far, far away, the pastor heard of a cutesy thing that some other “really with it” parishes were doing: having a Midnight Mass for New Year’s Day, giving the faithful a safe alternative to drunken parties or watching the ball drop on TV. Oh, so precious! Like taking a pagan holiday and “baptizing” it, as so many times “scholars” have told us we did when we made up out of thin air the Catholic Holy Days such as Christmas, All Saints Day, and Easter. The people were thrilled. The Mass, I was told, was beautiful. (I slept through it, thankfully, as I had the early Mass the next morning.) But there was one tiny, little, itsy bitsy problem, which should have been apparent from the beginning of this harebrained idea. Everyone who attended Midnight Mass was trying to avoid the drunks, yet everybody had to drive home from the church as all of the New Year’s parties were closing down! The Mass-goers might have been the only sober ones on the road! We were fortunate that nobody got killed. Why am I bringing up this old memory? Because somebody this year asked me why we cannot have a midnight Mass for New Years! “But we always do it at my old parish, Father. It’s a TRADITION! Isn’t this a traditional parish?” Oh, brother. Oh, I almost forgot the best part. The New Year’s Midnight Mass at my previous parish started at midnight, but Christmas Midnight Mass was at 10:00 pm because, well, it was just too much to expect anyone to come to Mass at such a late hour as midnight! Tradition? What’s that?
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
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