From the Pastor: Covid Infection Rate Of Just .77?
Last week I was reading a news article about New Jersey’s Governor Phil Murphy chastising his people for not fully participating in “contact tracing” for covid. Evidently 52% of his people who might have maybe been possibly in the presence of someone who may or may not have covid refused to give the government a list of all of the places they have been and the people with whom they have been in contact for the prior two weeks or more so that they and everyone they implicate in those answers will then be forced to “voluntarily” self-quarantine for an additional two weeks after the others also produce their own list of contacts. Go figure. “It is highly disturbing, to say the least” he is quoted as saying, while I find it highly disturbing that his government is trying to shame people into revealing such personal information. This comes on the heels of the governor of Ohio and dozens of professional athletes being told that their tests came back positive for covid, only to find, through a different test or closer examination of the same test, that it was only a false positive. (Of course, those “important” people were able to get nearly immediate results from their covid tests and were only in panic mode for one day or less before they got the desired but not necessarily any more accurate negative results, whereas “real” people often have to wait longer than the recommended quarantine length of days to find out if they tested positive or negative and never get the chance to verify if it was an accurate diagnosis either way.) But there was something in the article which caught my eye and which I don’t remember ever hearing about from any source before. The following two sentences made me say, “hmmm...!”
“It also could explain why New Jersey has had a hard time recently in keeping its transmission rate below 1.0, which is considered too high. That means every person with the coronavirus is spreading the disease, on average, to at least one other person.”
Did you know that the transmission rate of this pandemic virus in coronavirus hotbed New Jersey is below 1? I hear news stories constantly that indicate that each person infected with covid is responsible for dozens, perhaps hundreds, of new cases and deaths! A quick search shows the following news stories: One single person in a meeting in Boston resulted in more than 99 covid cases in Massachusetts alone; One covid positive person at a Georgia funeral resulted in more than 100 infections and several deaths; An Arkansas pastor infected 30 churchgoers including 3 who died; 23 Clemson football players got it from one person; the list could go on and on. As I pointed out in a recent bulletin article (August 2) the slant in the news is fomenting fear and outright panic as if every person with covid will infect dozens, if not hundreds, of other people, and (insert scream of horror, shame, and guilt here) kill everyone’s grandma. But this New Jersey article about how bad the people are behaving by not disclosing where they have been for weeks, who they have spoken with, which restaurants and stores they have entered, which form of transportation they have taken, and so much more that the contact tracers demanded that they reveal, tells us that, on average, each covid-ill person has spread it to less than one other person!
I wanted, of course, to see how many others we Florida covid-ill grandma killers infect. I knew that it must be far and away a larger number, since we are all (at least in this area) forced to wear masks, cannot visit loved ones in nursing homes or enter hospitals for sick calls, and restaurants still cannot serve more than a minuscule number of masked and isolated customers. Surely we must be the ones infecting dozens and hundreds if we so much as think about coughing! But no, as of August 27, Florida has an “infection rate” or “transmission rate” of just .77! Here is a “brain teaser” puzzle for anyone reading this. If 80% of all covid cases come from so-called “super spreader” individuals (a google search shows this to be the statistic) and the average Floridian (including those in the 80% statistic) passes on covid to slightly more than 3/4 of a person (that is, for every four infected people, only three more will get the virus), then, in reality, the chances of a Floridian with covid passing on the virus to even one person is X. Solve for X. The number must be very small.
During the 2 weeks that a person could be (will be! according to the panic-inducing news media) highly infectious he/she may have gone to church two Sundays (extra days if a daily communicant), gone to the grocery store even more often, visited (in close contact for extended periods of time) family and friends, gone out to eat, exercised near others, etc., yet, although you would think from news stories that that person would have infected everyone in each building or within sight while outside during every single one of those encounters, he/she most likely has not, according to statistics (not pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking), made even one other person sick! If anyone solves the above problem, please let me know and I will put the X number in on our webpage. If I am not thinking this through properly, let me know that as well, for I will need to correct my false inferences.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: A/C and Other Information
This week’s news; good or bad, you decide. You all have been very busy getting in touch with your favorite airconditioning companies and at this time we are inundated with technicians crawling around in our attic. Thank you very much! None of them have so far been able to give us a written quote, though, because this is a much bigger job than we first expected. The old compressor units definitely have to be replaced, which we already knew, since they use the old freon refrigerant, which is now illegal to use. But along with replacing the compressors, the air handler, too, needs to be replaced. It takes up a very large chunk of real estate in the church attic and most likely was manufactured up there, as it is too large to be taken out through any of the openings to the attic. It is set up for freon, too, obviously, but also uses an old Westinghouse motor, the likes of which are no longer in production. That huge motor, by the way, is what produces the loud humming sound that can be heard in the church even though it is on the far top side of the social hall! The electrical box also fails to meet current codes (things have changed since the 60’s!), so it needs to be replaced. And, while we are at it, the old boiler, which is our heating system, will probably be removed (it fails multiple times each winter and boiler technicians are more scarce than hens’ teeth) and heat strips installed in the A/C units, something unusual of when this old boiler was installed. The A/C techs, therefore, have to get multiple specialized people together to figure out how to bring this all together. I will let you know what they come up with but be prepared for a large estimate.
Fortunately, St. Joseph Vietnamese Mission helps us with expenses like this since they share the property. Or, maybe not. Fr. Chien has given me permission to announce that they are planning on moving out of Epiphany and into their own church building! They are raising funds for the purchase of an existing Lutheran church in the Town and Country area of Tampa. They have a contract on the property but are awaiting final approval from the Diocese. The diocesan finance committee doesn’t meet until the end of next month but everything so far looks like they will grant approval for the purchase and move. Please pray for them as this is a huge step for them and the first time that they will not be “renting” space from another parish but rather taking on full responsibility for their own church.
As we look toward the near future, our Catholic schools will be opening up this Monday, August 24. We don’t have a school anymore so we are not directly affected by that but I am using it as a sign that other groups at the parish level can re-start as well. The Saturday morning Adult Cathechism class will resume on Saturday, September 5 from 10:30 - 12:00 noon. That is 30 minutes later than before but we have such a long line for confessions on Saturday mornings that the old 10:00 start time simply is no longer feasible. We may have to meet in the church to keep being anti-socially distant from each other if everyone who used to attend comes back, plus we may get some new faces! For those of you new to the parish, this class is simply an on-going explanation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church. We go through a few paragraphs or a few pages each week, depending on how much detail I get into and how many questions there are, and simply pick up each week where we left off the last time. The classes are recorded and the Unknown Church Gremlin posts them online so you can listen to any past lessons or any that you miss. You need to bring in your own copy of the Catechism, but there is no charge for the class. Even so, I offer a double your money back guarantee that you will enjoy the class and learn while you are there. Simply come whenever you can and don’t come when you can’t.
The Holy League men’s group will also begin meeting once again on the second and fourth Thursdays of each month, beginning at 6:00 pm on September 10. I will give the following information for the sake of the new members of the parish. It is for men only. We begin at 6:00 in the church with Adoration and confessions. Most men cannot get here right at 6, but don’t fret if your workplace is not close. Come when you can make it. Men trickle in during this prayer time and then, after Benediction, we move to the social hall for a teaching about the Faith. We are currently nearing the end of the Catechism of St. Pius X, which can be found online for free or purchased in book form for about ten dollars. After that we have social time, which we will have to figure out how to make work while remaining anti-socially distant from each other. This social time with other men who also want to be saints is extremely important. Libations, cigars, and sometimes food has been available, to be freely indulged in or avoided as each man sees fit.
Finally, be sure to sign up to Flocknote (how we communicate via email or text) and register with the parish if you have not yet done so.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Tutorial on Receiving Holy Communion
If the following article seems strangely familiar to you, congratulations! You actually read it less than two months ago! I usually don’t re-run articles for at least a few years, but this helpful tutorial just ran over the 4th of July weekend and I see that I need to run it again. It really is helpful for the person receiving Our Lord to know how to do so properly as well as being very helpful for the one distributing Holy Communion when everyone knows what to do.
This is either a reminder or a tutorial on how to -- and how not to -- receive Holy Communion at a Traditional Latin Mass. It is a reminder for those who have been attending for a while and a tutorial for all of the new people, whom we are welcoming by the busload, it seems! Due to the covid “condition red” we are experiencing, there are a few guidelines from the diocese to which we must adhere. First of all, by now everyone knows the drill about staying 6 feet away from everyone who is not in your household. The lines in the aisles are reminders of how great a distance that is and we ask you to stay back from the person in front of you in the Communion line. Of course, you don’t have to stay away from your family members, so everyone else sees you bunched up like a normal family going up to Communion during normal times, and they have a tendency to revert to normalcy as well. How can I put this? We are asked to refrain from being normal in oh, so many ways! Stay back! Have some fun with it. Bring a six foot stick and... no, no, no, not at Mass. Leave that for the grocery store. Ok, so you have now approached the front of the church and there is an altar rail, or Communion rail, in use. Please be anti-social there as well. It is permitted to kneel down together as a family, you know, side by side as if you like each other, but leave a gap between you and any non-family member who is already kneeling at the rail. I know, you don’t breath out of your ears, so it seems silly to have to stay away from people to your side when “they” claim that the anti-social distancing is to keep you from breathing virus globs into other people’s eyes, nose, and mouth, but then they also want you to avoid what? Ear to ear infections? Or perhaps they are worried that there are aliens among us with breathing apparatus on the side instead of in front. Laugh at it if you will, but then just do it.
If you cannot kneel due to physical infirmity, don’t panic. Stand at the rail and I will still give you Holy Communion. Or, if you are in a wheelchair, come to one end or the other and I can easily step down to give you Our Lord. Holy Communion is distributed from the priest’s left to right and he will be accompanied by an altar boy holding a paten. I will hold the Host before you and give you a blessing. While I am doing that, tilt your head slightly back, open your mouth and stick out your tongue slightly past your bottom lip. Don’t stick your tongue out all the way unless you can keep it straight instead of reaching down toward the floor à la Gene Simmons of the old rock band, Kiss. There is no safe way to place a host on a tongue which is pointed downward. You do not say “amen” or “howdy Father” or anything else as you do at the Novus Ordo Mass. Please don’t wait until the Host comes close to your mouth before you open up and reach out with your tongue. People who do that usually also lunge forward with a licking motion. If you stay silent and still and already have your mouth open and tongue slightly out, you will not lick me. If you are a “licker” you will lick the back of either my index finger or thumb. That doesn’t normally affect anyone else, since I grab the next Hosts with the dry pad side of my thumb and finger, but the next “licker” will get a mouthful of whatever you put on my fingernail, and if there was a licker before you, you got what s/he left behind! Seriously, though, don’t speak or lick or lunge. It’s been a long time since I have been licked, but some of you give my reflexes a workout!
When kneeling it is quite natural to keep your hands folded with palms together in front of your breast but please don’t do that at the altar rail. The paten must go under your chin to catch the Host or particles of the Host that may fall. If your fingers are in the way, the paten cannot do its job. Also, if you wear a mask, please, for the same reason, don’t leave the mask under your chin. The mask is supposedly only protecting others if you have the coronavirus and if you do, the virus will be concentrated on the mask, which then gets transferred to the paten when it touches it, which then passes it on down the line to every other mask or fingers that get in the way and, finally, to the priest as he purifies it. So please take your mask off completely before receiving Our Lord. And that’s enough for today’s lesson.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Special Blessings on the Assumption
This coming Saturday, August 15, we celebrate the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Of historical value is a special blessing given that day to herbs, fruit, grain, and other produce. This blessing takes place in the church before Mass begins and is done, of course, in Latin. The Sancta Missa website includes this helpful explanation: This blessing comes from Germany, and formulas for it are found as early as the tenth century. The blessing of herbs was reserved only to the feast of the Assumption. Herbs had not our restricted English meaning but included all kinds of cultivated and wild flowers, especially those which in some way had a symbolic relation to our Lady. The people brought herbs to church on her feast not only to secure for themselves another blessed object, but also to make of the occasion a harvest festival of thanksgiving to God for His great bounty manifested in the abundant fruits of the earth. The herbs were placed on the altar, and even beneath the altarcloths, so that from this close contact with the Eucharist they might receive a special consecration, over and above the ordinary sacramental blessing of the Church.
Below is a slightly abbreviated English translation of the blessings I will bestow upon all such produce brought to the church before Mass that day. You may note that the blessing asked for (and therefore given by God, for He gives what is asked) includes “healing of sick bodies” and “keep[ing] away disease and adversity” as well as being “a protection against diabolical mockery, cunning, and deception” which things are truly desired and needed during these pandemic and demonic times! Note also that the blessings extend also to the animals who will use/eat them and are even powerful when the produce is simply “kept, carried, or otherwise used” before or instead of being eaten! So, for physical and spiritual health in this life as assistance in getting into Heaven, bring your herbs and fruit next week!
BLESSING OF HERBS on the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary
P: Our help is in the name of the Lord. All: Who made heaven and earth.
P: Lord, heed my prayer. All: And let my cry come unto you.
P: The Lord be with you. All: And with your spirit.
P. Let us pray. Almighty everlasting God, who by your word alone brought into being the heavens, earth, sea, things seen and things unseen, and garnished the earth with plants and trees for the use of man and beast; who appointed each species to bring forth fruit in its kind, not only for the food of living creatures, but for the healing of sick bodies as well; with mind and word we urgently call on you in your great kindness to bless ✠ these various herbs and fruits, thus increasing their natural powers with the newly given grace of your blessing. May they keep away disease and adversity from men and beasts who use them in your name; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.
P. Let us pray. God, who through Moses, your servant, directed the children of Israel to carry their sheaves of new grain to the priests for a blessing, to pluck the finest fruits of the orchard, and to make merry before you, the Lord their God; hear our supplications, and shower blessings ✠ in abundance upon us and upon these bundles of new grain, new herbs, and this assortment of produce which we gratefully present to you on this festival, blessing ✠ them in your name. Grant that men, cattle, flocks, and beasts of burden find in them a remedy against sickness, pestilence, sores, injuries, spells, against the fangs of serpents or poisonous creatures. May these blessed objects be a protection against diabolical mockery, cunning, and deception wherever they are kept, carried, or otherwise used. Lastly, through the merits of the blessed Virgin Mary, whose Assumption we are celebrating, may we all, laden with the sheaves of good works, deserve to be taken up to heaven; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.
Let us pray. God, who on this day raised up to highest heaven the rod of Jesse, the Mother of your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, that by her prayers and patronage you might communicate to our mortal nature the fruit of her womb, your very Son; we humbly implore you to help us use these fruits of the soil for our temporal and everlasting welfare, aided by the power of your Son and the prayers of His glorious Mother; through Christ our Lord. All: Amen.
P. And may the blessing of almighty God, Father, ✠ Son, and Holy Spirit, come upon these creatures and remain always. All: Amen.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka
From the Pastor: Not Denying Virus, Decrying Lies
This week I read a supposed news article put out by News Channel 8. The small headline was simply “BY THE NUMBERS” in all caps, followed by the real headline three times as large, “How likely are you to contract* coronavirus in Tampa Bay crowds?” I am going to print most of the article below minus all but Hillsborough County data. Note that has been updated once at the time I write this. After you read it, I will comment a bit more on something that should have been caught and corrected by the writer or the editor the first time or, at the very least, should have been corrected in the update. It is so blatantly wrong and repeated so often that it could only be put there on purpose in order to bring even more hysteria to the readers.
Posted: Jul 28, 2020 / 04:04 PM EDT / Updated: Jul 29, 2020 / 08:30 AM EDT
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — How great is your risk of contracting* COVID-19 in a crowd in the Tampa Bay area? As most businesses in the state reopen and coronavirus cases continue to surge in Florida, that’s the question many want to know. Scientists in Georgia now have a database to assess the risk of contracting* coronavirus after attending events of various sizes. The database assesses the risk for every county in the country. Using public health data, researchers with the Applied Bioinformatics Laboratory at the Georgia Institute of Technology developed the interactive map to account for widespread gaps in U.S. testing for the coronavirus. The virus can easily spread between people who display mild or no symptoms of illness. Risk assessments change daily, but WFLA.com took a look at the risk of contracting* coronavirus in the Tampa Bay area counties as of Tuesday, July 28.
Risk with 10 people: 41%
Risk with 50 people: 93%
...[I]n assessing the risk of events with at least 100 people – such as a concert or wedding – the database found residents of most Tampa Bay area counties had at least a 99% risk of becoming ill* with coronavirus. “The issue of understanding risks associated with gatherings is even more relevant as many kinds of businesses, including sports and universities, are considering how to reopen safely,” said Professor Joshua Weitz from the School of Biological Sciences.
OK, now back to my commentary. According to this article and based on its statistical numbers, every single person in our parish should have already contracted the coronavirus many times over while at our church, while at the grocery store, and while at the XYZ YOUNAMEIT place. Yet that hasn’t happened. How could the numbers be so far off? I clicked through to the Georgia database this story is supposedly based on and discovered something that was easy enough to spot. It wasn’t small print. It wasn’t written in a foreign language. It wasn’t typed out in code. It couldn’t have been missed by anyone with journalist credentials or even a 5th grade reading and comprehension level. Therefore I have to conclude that it was seen, understood, and completely twisted for the purpose of causing panic in those who are already stressed out about the coronavirus. Here are the first two written sentences of the database page. “This map shows the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location. The risk level is the estimated chance (0-100%) that at least 1 COVID-19 positive individual will be present at an event in a county, given the size of the event.” Did you see it? These data are showing the risk that one person in the crowd could be sick with covid. NOT the percent chance of people getting sick. WFLA indicated above at least 6 times (I marked them with *) that the data were showing, and I quote from the opening sentence, “your risk of contracting COVID-19 in a crowd”. Yes, YOUR risk (scared you, right?) of contracting the virus, not the risk that one person out of that crowd might be infected with the virus! Is this a big deal? You betcha. Even if one person is infected in the crowd, you may not be anywhere close to him, may not touch any surface he has touched, may not breathe any air he has breathed. It may very well be that absolutely NOBODY will get sick from that one statistical person in the crowd. But that is not a scary story. YOU WILL DIE IF YOU GO TO A WEDDING is a scary story. But it is not a true story. (Oops, it rather indicates that each person attending a wedding with 100 people has a 99% chance of becoming ill of this disease so deadly that we have had many of our moral and civil rights taken away. I don’t want to be accused of exaggerating here!)
This is not an isolated example. They are, to put it biblically, Legion. Is it any wonder that thinking people are so skeptical of our “unbiased” media, our tyrannical politicians, and our “experts” of all sorts? Is it any wonder that they look at such things as “mask mandates”, wherein millions of people in this area have been forced to wear masks in public places for six weeks now with no subsequent drop in covid “cases” that have an incubation period of 2 weeks maximum, and doubt those who say that masks are effective? Ask the Boy Who Cried Wolf where constant public lies will get you even when you finally tell the truth.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka