From the Pastor: The Weeks Gone By and The Week Ahead
This past week we were blessed (and I do not use that term lightly here) by Fr. Shannon Collins, MSJB as he preached our first Parish Mission since the dark covid years were inflicted upon us. The subject, The Most Precious Blood of Jesus, was presented in a profoundly spiritual and intellectual manner. His catechism classes after the morning 8:00 Masses were also amazing, as he enlightened those who were able to attend by delving into current Faith issues in an understandable way with a mixture of seriousness and good humor. As a preparation for the partially penitential season of Advent, this was perfect. Thank you Father!
Of course, the Parish Mission came right on the heels of Cardinal Burke’s visit and Pontifical Solemn High Mass. This week a few bloggers and Catholic commentators mentioned his visit to Epiphany. Adrian Alvarado from the site OnePeterFive, who was in attendance that day, wrote a very nice article about his experience of the Mass and the parishioners while he was here. Several others picked up his story and passed it on or commented on it on their sites. There was one site, Abyussus Abyssum / Deep Calls to Deep, which re-posted that article with the wonderful headline in all caps and bold: IF ONLY THIS COULD BE REPLICATED IN EVERY PARISH IN EVERY DIOCESE IN THE WORLD. I couldn’t agree more! They included a photo of Cardinal Burke at the time of Consecration lifting up the Sacred Host as the surrounding ministers and entire congregation knelt in prayer and Adoration. A recently retired priest-blogger, Fr. Allan J. McDonald of the Savannah diocese, on his Southern Orders blog passed on the photo with an all caps (but unbolded) headline: EVEN A BARN OF A CHURCH BUILDING HAS AN ELEGANCE WITH THE TRADITIONAL CATHOLIC ALTAR SET-UP AND AN AD ORIENTEM MASS WITH SOME PIZAZZ. Setting aside that he doesn’t know the difference between a barn and a school gymnasium/cafeteria (which was the original intent of this building—the “real” church never got built, as happened so often in this diocese, with the “temporary” church becoming the permanent church), I love the way he put it! The Cardinal’s TLM being described as having “pizazz” certainly is quite a bit different than the image I would have in my head if someone described a NOM as having “pizazz,” for in the latter I would conjure up images of a would-be jazz pianist tinkling the keys of an electric keyboard, a soloist leading the “audience” in clapping to the beat as she belted out a peppy bilingual (English/Spanish) song, and Father dancing a conga line with 20 extraordinary ministerettes of Holy Communion after they all recited the “words of Institution” together. (Sorry for putting that image into your brain. I just took a break to go rinse my mouth out, for I threw up a little as I was writing that description!) There are probably other places where the story was published and if you know of any that are especially noteworthy, feel free to pass them on.
And now, on to the week ahead. I am sure that you are all aware of the big holiday coming up this week. Our parish office will be closed from noon on Wednesday until Monday morning. After all, the staff must prepare for and then recover from the Solemn Religious Ceremonial Day of Black Friday. In all seriousness, though, thousands of people will line up in front of their favorite shop hours or even a day ahead of this Biggest Sales Day of the year and have made a quasi-religious ritual out of doing so. I have no doubt, not even a teeny-tiny one, that each person camping out for said “event” would bitterly complain if their (probably former) priest or minister ever dared to keep them at Mass or Service for more than an hour. Those who complain that a 10:30 Mass is “too early” and that they simply can’t give up their sleep for Our Lord will have no problem staying awake all night in sub-zero or rainy weather for the chance of getting $5 off of a $20 item. “I’m bored!” they would whine at church, while they never get bored doing absolutely nothing while camping out in front of WallyMart. “I got nothing out of it” they would kvetch after church, without realizing that they literally got nothing out of buying items for a lesser discount than they spent on gas. “He’s always talking about money” they would lyingly grouse, after having spent weeks scouring the sales brochures online and in print for their Black Friday religious ceremony, all with the plan to wastefully spend a fortune on things they don’t need and may not even want. Oh, yes, the Church of the Half-Price Television is leading them to their god and they will sacrifice anything to participate in its worldly promises. Yet they will turn their back on the one True God and his Other-worldly promise of Salvation.
I write this to remind you that there are things in this life that matter eternally and those that seem to matter but only temporally. Spend Thanksgiving Day giving prayerful thanks to God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Everything worthwhile that you have and that you are comes from Him. If Cardinal Burke’s Mass and Fr. Collins’ Mission did what they were attempting to do, Black Friday will pale (as in the pale horse of the Apocalypse, ridden by Death) in comparison to even the secular holiday of Thanksgiving. Don’t get caught up in the frenzy, for “where thy treasure is, there is thy heart also.”
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka