From the Pastor: What’s the Plan?
It came in the mail this week. The form letter from the Diocese arrives every winter or early spring. “Do you wish to have a change of assignment?” it asks. “If so, why, and which parish would you like to be moved to?” It also asks if I would like to have an assistant priest (parochial vicar) or a deacon assigned to the parish if I am asking to stay. Then the more open-ended questions about how I am doing, do I need a sabbatical, am I cracking up, and such. To put an end to any wild speculation, let me tell you that I replied: I wish to stay at Epiphany. Why would I want to leave the best parish in the diocese/state/country? As for the parochial vicar request, of course I would like to have one! And send a deacon along with him! Sure, there will be a learning curve for each of them but if they are willing to accept the assignment, that is a sure sign that they are willing to delve more deeply into the lost traditions of our faith than they ever had to in seminary or other parishes. They will, I am sure, benefit from the TLM as much as I have, and will bring blessings to one and all.
As for the questions about my general health and happiness, I wrote that I am doing quite well. Although I didn’t add this on the reply form, I would like to take a sabbatical, I think. I see other priests doing it all the time. But I don’t want to go to Rome (a tremendous sabbatical place if there ever was one, with so much rich Catholic history and great professors to teach—assuming I find the right sabbatical program) but it is such a spiritually and politically dark place right now that I wouldn’t currently wish to spend any time there. I figure that a self-study sabbatical on one of those new privately owned condominium cruise ships might be a good place to be. I could cruise around the world for a year and hopefully convert a literal boatload of people by the time I was done. But that would mean taking a chance that they won’t implement the recently popular “less than worthless experimental dead baby shots” protocols along with mandatory suffocation devices during that trip. No, I won’t take that chance at this time. Heck, I could just go to Vatican City if I wanted that!
As for my health, since I wrote about trying to lose weight I have received three boxes of cookies and some very good chocolate, all with assurances that I am not too fat. Of course, I plan on eating them all even though I know that the people giving the gifts were lying! After all, that will keep their lies from being lies, right? I also see the hardships my dad is going through with his numerous bodily aches and pains and, as he so often reminds me, whatever happens to him now will happen to me in the future! So, relatively speaking (pun intended), I am in great health right now!
We now move on to a more serious, though related, issue. I have been inundated with links to articles and reports about a rumored upcoming Apostolic Exhortation that will greatly restrict the Traditional Latin Mass. I suppose it is good for you to know (or else I wouldn’t be writing this) that the rumors have been around for quite a while and are getting stronger now that Pope Benedict is “out of the way.” As far as I know, there is nobody who has first-hand knowledge about what exactly this rumored document contains who has spilled the beans, so all is second-, third-, and fourth-hand speculation at this point. “What are you going to do, Father?” is the recurring question. But I have no answer. I don’t know what the supposed document says, so I don’t know what is being asked of me. I don’t know what is being asked of the bishop. I don’t know what, if anything, is being demanded, rather than asked, either! “But don’t you have a plan?” No. At least not one that will satisfy the questioners. I plan to be a Catholic priest doing exactly what I am already doing in the parish where I am already doing it. I know, that seems like a boring plan, a plan to do nothing different, but why should I take on worries about something of which I know nothing with certitude? I have complete confidence that Jesus is still in charge of His Church. He is the one who made sure that, against all odds, I was ordained a priest. (And yes, thank you, Blessed Mother, for I know that you were interceding for me full time, and you, my guardian angel, were protecting me from both myself and a whole host of enemies my whole time in the seminary and beyond!) And it was He who made sure that I was in the wrong place at the wrong time (or right and right) so that I “had to” start celebrating the Traditional Latin Mass just to be faithful to another document that called on pastors to give this unknown-to-me Mass to the people if they asked for it. And it is He who made sure that this parish is not only surviving but thriving and leading people in the way of holiness, even as other parishes seem to be dying of self-inflicted wounds. So it is my firm conviction that no matter what document comes out and no matter what the world thinks is going to happen, He is still in charge. So please join me in following St. Padre Pio’s famous advice: Pray, hope, and don’t worry.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka