From the Pastor: Merry Christmas!
Some who are reading this may be in church for the first time in quite a while. Welcome home! Just like when children leave the home they grew up in and then come back for a visit, you might have noticed some changes. You might have even been wondering if you mistakenly entered into a non-Catholic church when you heard a “foreign” language spoken by the priest, and the altar boys giving responses also in the “foreign” language. Of course, Latin is not supposed to be a foreign language to those who belong to the Latin Rite of the Church, as most Catholics do. It is the official liturgical language of the huge majority of Catholics throughout the world. Yet it is used so little nowadays that nobody seems to understand how important it is to have an official “Church” language, a sacred language for conversing with God. Well, here we use it all the time! Let me assure you, this is indeed a Catholic parish. Since August of 2015 we have been dedicated, at the command of the bishop, to bringing the sacraments to the people according to the 1962 Missal and other liturgical books in use at that time. This is the Mass some of you older folks might still remember from your youth but the majority of parishioners here today have zero memories of it. They recognized, though, the holiness and reverence of the old Mass and were drawn to it. The prayers are precise and bold. The scriptural quotations are numerous and give a logical coherence to the “theme” of the Mass. It is different—perhaps even jarringly so when you experience it for the first time—but as it becomes more familiar it will lead you to a deeper spiritual understanding and experience of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.
If you are a visitor from the local area, I hope you don’t just drop by occasionally but rather that you stay and make this parish your spiritual home. If you are from out of town and only come through once or twice a year, I am glad you found us, either by accident or by purposefully searching for us. Feel free to join us next time you are in town. And for those of you who may be here as “Christmas and Easter” Catholics, who remain adamantly Catholic but only occasionally attend Mass, I hope you find in this parish the reason for returning full time to the practice of the Faith. Stopping by for a visit on Christmas and Easter is a start of a relationship or is perhaps the beginning of mending a broken one but it is not enough to make the relationship a strong, vibrant one. Men and God need more time together. A weekly visit is the bare minimum God has told us that we need. Worshiping and adoring Him while entering into His Holy Sacrifice (in other words, fully, consciously, actively participating in the Mass) at least every Sunday and the few Holy Days of Obligation still on the calendar is what has been revealed to us as an absolute necessity for spiritual health. You may have wandered away from church because you were bored, because you didn’t “get anything out of it,” or because of some serious sins (your own or those of others) that made you question or even lose Faith. That was then, this is now. Now is the time to come home. This parish is not going to attempt to entertain you so don’t look for a “feel good” Mass or homily. This parish is going to change you into a Saint through serious prayer, through encouragement from others struggling for sanctity in a world of filth, through true Catholic teaching, and, most especially, through the form of Mass that converted the world. This is not just a gimmick to get seats filled or to get a heftier collection. We truly do want all the Catholic Faithful to return to the fullness of God’s grace by availing themselves of His sacraments and entering deeply into Jesus’ Most Sacred Heart, the fount of love and mercy. Only after all of us Catholics are fully loving and living our Faith can we expect the rest of the world’s people to finally see and accept the great love of the one, true God which has been revealed in and through His Son.
I don’t need to ask why you left in the first place. It doesn’t matter. Come back home. You are always welcome. The Catholic Church is the sure vessel that will lead men through the treacherous waters of this life to the eternally safe harbor of Heaven. All of the supernatural graces and love of God that are necessary for salvation are to be found in Her. To those who don’t know Her teachings, who question Her teachings, who struggle to live Her teachings, I will gladly tutor, answer, strengthen and even absolve--whatever it takes to help you get on and stay on the path to Sainthood.
Come and really discover the Faith for the first time; or re-discover it; or explore it more in depth than you ever thought necessary or helpful. Christmas is the season that we celebrate our Savior’s coming into the world. It is in the Catholic Church that you get to meet Him on a personal basis, in a sacramental way, in a loving union of God and man. Let this Christmas be the one that changes your life here upon Earth and prepares you for eternal life in Heaven. Live your Catholic Faith to the fullest. Love your Catholic Faith intimately. The true meaning of Christmas is found, lived and loved in the Catholic Church and, if I may be so bold as to write this, especially in Epiphany of Our Lord parish.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka