Cardinal Burke Post-Traditionis Custodes

One fateful day, I heard through whispered breath a claim that Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke would be visiting Tampa. Through some digging, I found out he’d be visiting the Epiphany of Our Lord parish. Before making the long, four hour drive to Tampa, I called and asked the pastor, Fr. Edwin Palka, how he felt about the His eminence’s visit to his parish, to which he answered “Are you kidding? The Cardinal is coming to visit! It is a great honor to host the Cardinal.”

In the early light of a beautiful Floridian Sunday morning, I arrived to the parish, and even though I had arrived two hours before the 10:30am Pontifical Solemn High Mass, I saw a line outside the parish that winded around the church. Hundreds of people had arrived to celebrate the Feast of Christ the King with Cardinal Burke. I was taken aback by the attendance, as this mass was not widely advertised, this was all through word of mouth alone. Yet there were innumerable families, people young and old, and all here for this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.

I entered the church, and saw a simple, sweet and modest parish, with a very ornate and beautiful high altar. Slowly, the people began to enter the parish, the pews quickly filling up and the laity dotted with veils, babies and suit jackets. The church couldn’t fit everyone that had arrived and so there were people sitting in overflow areas, or standing where they could fit. Although hundreds had arrived, the air was still in anticipation of the honored guest. The tension was palatable. Suddenly, the Schola began to chant, breaking the stillness, and the acolytes, deacons, priests and finally, the Cardinal himself, processed into the church. In an instant, this humble parish, built in 1962, saw its first ever Pontifical High Mass.

I had never seen so many dedicated men in the sanctuary, all there to assist His Eminence during the highly ornate and regal celebration of the Most Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. Young men were torchbearers, there were multiple priests in attendance, and the Cardinal wore ornate vestments as the Schola chanted complex polyphonic chants and the incense rose before the tabernacle and up to heaven.

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