From the Pastor: Happy Fourth Sunday of Advent!
Nope. The title of this article just doesn’t have the same ring to it as “Merry Christmas!” Still, wishing you a Merry Christmas before Advent is over isn’t proper. Maybe that’s why so many people wish everyone “Happy Holidays!” What they are trying to do is combine Advent and Christmas. Yeah, that’s the ticket. They want the whole world to join in with both the expectant waiting for the Messiah and the actual celebration of His birth. And if that is true, and it must be since you just saw it in writing, then “Season’s Greetings!” is probably secret code from one chef to another, as they pass their favorite Christmas recipes back and forth. A lot of flavor comes from the correct use of the proper seasonings in every food dish, after all. As for Kwanzaa, it is a foreign word (probably Latin, woodenchano) which starts with a “K” which is shorthand for “Kringle” as in Kris Kringle, AKA Santa Claus AKA St. Nicholas. The rest of the word, “wanzaa”, is from the children’s telling Mr. Kringle what they desire for Christmas, as in “I wanzaa doll and I wanzaa bicycle”. And all this time you probably thought those seemingly generic greetings were just methods of minimizing Christ at Christmas. Anyway, since you will be reading this during Advent but you might also pick up a leftover copy of it when you come for Mass again on Christmas, I suppose it is safe to say all of the above. So, from the entire staff of Epiphany (whether they want to be included in this strange greeting or not), Happy Advent, Happy Holidays, Season’s Greetings, we hope you got what you Kwanzaa’d and, finally, Merry Christmas!
Now back to business. It looks like I was counting the chickens before they hatched when I wrote that Midnight Mass might be a Solemn High Mass. It was wishful thinking on my part and it now looks like we will only have two of the three needed clergy for that to happen. But at least it will be a sung Mass once again. But by the time Christmas comes, who knows if maybe another priest will show up unexpectedly? One day we will have an “overabundance” of priests celebrating the TLM again, but I fear that that will not be during my lifetime. Plus, that also assumes that the Second Coming doesn’t occur really soon, something upon which I wouldn’t make a large bet. Last year we celebrated the Midnight Mass by candlelight, which I expect to be able to do again this year, so you might want to read the prayers and scripture readings ahead of time.
On the subject of Mass by candlelight, the Rorate Coeli Mass went ahead as planned last Saturday. We moved it to the new chapel at Jesuit High School. The setting was beautiful and the acoustics allowed the schola to sound like angelic choirs. Last year we had approximately 60 people at the Rorate Mass at Epiphany. This year we ran out of hand candles for the congregation 15 minutes before Mass began. About 150 people received Holy Communion and there is no telling how many more people we had there if you count the multitude of kids too young to receive. I had the day off, so to speak, as I was the fourth cleric, kneeling in choir and assisting only through prayer because the roles of priest, deacon and subdeacon were already filled. One of the altar boys asked what time I had to get up that morning and I laughed about being able to sleep in until 5:00 am since I, without a liturgical role and not being in charge of the chapel, the clergy, the schola or the servers that day, didn’t have to be there until 6 and live fairly close. The poor young man who asked lives out in Pasco county and probably had to be up by three thirty or so (and his family as well) in order to arrive between 5:00 and 5:30 so as to get everything set up, to practice, and to get ready. I’ll tell you what, we have very, very dedicated altar boys/men and choir members, not just dedicated parishioners!
I assume that you read the rest of the bulletin so you know the Christmas Mass schedule but, just to be sure, remember that Midnight Mass begins at Midnight. It is the first Mass of Christmas, not the last Mass of the day before Christmas. Other than Midnight Mass, Christmas will have the normal Sunday Mass schedule (including an English Novus Ordo Mass at 5:00 pm on Christmas Eve) even though it is a Tuesday. The 10:30 Mass might be a simple Missa Cantata without incense like we have at 6:30 am every weekday, though, since most of the altar boys will be at the Midnight Mass and we don’t expect to see many of them at a second or third Mass that day.
Besides that, remember that the Diocesan 50th Anniversary Calendars are available at the back of the church for the taking. Also, Thursday, December 27, the feast of St. John, we will have the traditional blessing of wine and other drinks after both morning Masses and at the men's Holy League meeting in the evening. Last, but certainly not least, our parish Feast Day, Epiphany, January 6, falls on a Sunday this year and is just two weeks away. The CCW has $5 tickets to the big lunch!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka