From the Pastor: More Water Needed!
Right off the bat, I need to apologize to all of you who were not able to receive any special Epiphany Holy Water! Our newest water jug, at 125 gallons, which I thought would be sufficient, was shown to be woefully lacking in capacity. I had 15 gallons in two smaller containers as well as the large one, all filled to the brim. But they were all empty before even the daily Mass people could fill their containers the next morning. On Epiphany Eve (January 5) we held the traditional Exorcism and Blessing of the Holy Water. Many people brought their own salt to be exorcised and blessed and quite a few even brought their own filled 5-gallon water jugs. Smaller containers were brought in empty to be filled from the large fonts. Several people had asked, “Don’t you exorcize and bless salt and water every week? What is different about this salt and water, then?” The answer to the first question is, yes, I exorcize and bless salt and water and mix them together and pray even more prayers over them every week. We use a lot of holy water around here! Unlike “new” blessed water, which is often just “made” by a priest or deacon making up words of blessing, or, worse, using the non-blessing blessing from the “new” Book of Blessings, to make our “regular” holy water I first exorcize salt and then bless it. Then I exorcize water and bless it. Then say a prayer as I mix them together. And finally, pray again, each prayer building on the others and asking that the water and salt will be sanctified, that it will drive away all sorts of evil spirits and physical evils, bring blessing to things and people, and even that it protect, nourish, and heal those who would use it. The power of that “old rite” Holy Water is even more apparent when compared to the “new rite” “holy water” which does not use salt, does not exorcize the water, does not sanctify the water, does not ask for demons and other evils to be driven away, does not do much of anything except ask that those sprinkled be “refreshed” and “renewed.” Heck, the priest doesn’t even make a single sign of the cross over the water as he prays this ridiculous prayer! But to answer the second question posed above, even this powerful “old rite” holy water pales in comparison to the “old rite” Epiphany Holy Water! For on this one day the choir chants beautiful hymns, psalms, and prayers. The priest adds additional exorcisms preceding the “regular” exorcisms and blessings. He even chants all of his prayers (recto tono, or in a single tone, probably because priests generally won’t be able to chant as well as the choir!). All of this is done with solemnity beyond the usual blessing. It took just about an hour instead of the usual 4 minutes of blessing, giving some idea of how much more effort and ritual goes into making this a special offering to God and, as He is never outdone in generosity, receiving special graces from Him as a result.
Unfortunately, this special blessing is missing from the new rituals, so few priests know anything about it, let alone how to do it. I know this quite well, for I never knew about it until recent years. One pastor asked for information about it this year, with the desire to do it at his parish next year. His parishioner is taking some information back to him. But all of the “old rite” blessings are required to be done in Latin, so I am not sure if he and his choir will be able to pull it off. And, since it doesn’t exist in the new rite, it is not found in English except in the “unofficial” translations supplied in the old rite books. In the front of those books, though, it states quite clearly that the blessings are “invalid” if done in the vernacular. Anyway, word is out that this is a powerful sacramental, and people came out in droves to get the water. Since our parish is growing and even people who don’t attend our parish come for things like this that they cannot get at their own parish (begging the question: so why are they not Epiphany parishioners?), we will have to exorcize and bless even more water next year!
Now, for something completely different. Fr. Vincent Cappuano, SJ, who used to assist here and teach at Jesuit High School, has offered to come and take over my duties for the month of March. Everything has now gone through the proper channels, his superior and our bishop have both agreed to it, and, unless covid panic ruins everything, I will be gone for the entire month! Of course, there is no place to go, for I do not wish to wear a face diaper as I travel or relax, so visiting relatives in Michigan, Massachusetts, or Chicago is out of the question. Taking a cruise is impossible without multiple jabs and coverings. Even campgrounds are full. But rest assured that I will still find someplace to prop myself up against a tree and read a book or wet a fishing line. I have no problem not responding to emails and phone calls even now, so on vacation, ha! just try to reach me! It is important for you to know that this is happening because if I just disappear as Lent begins, the grapevine might erupt with wild speculation about why I am absent, where I got sent, or other such talk. So now you have two months’ notice that all is well.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka