From the Pastor: God’s Perfect Timing
Last week proved once again that God’s timing is pretty incredible. For the first time since arriving at Epiphany, I caught a cold. I am certainly not complaining about going a year and a half without getting sick! But my throat was sore, my nose was stuffy and running, my ears were plugged and a hacking cough threatened to turn my lungs inside out. While the evening Mass for the Immaculate Conception was pretty tough to sing, I knew that Sunday would have been nearly impossible. Fortunately, God had it all set up in advance so that Fr. Vincent, who has been celebrating the Sunday morning low Mass quite a bit, gaining confidence with every Mass celebrated, was finally ready to celebrate our 10:30 Sung Mass for the first time. What a relief. As difficult as it was to celebrate the silent Mass while striving mightily to not sneeze, cough or blow my nose, having those same struggles while chanting and using incense would have been much more of a challenge! So I was truly blessed. By the way, I credit Our Lady of Good Health with my long stretch of remaining illness-free, so if you could offer her a prayer of thanks, I would appreciate it.
While I am writing about my cold, let also give some advice about what to do when your priest has an illness. First and foremost, pray for him! Prayer against physical evil, while not as necessary as prayer against moral evil, is still important. So please pray that I return quickly to good health and that I stay healthy. But in the meantime, realize that I have no choice but to celebrate Mass and hear confessions. That means that if you have a severe immune disorder, you might want to refrain from receiving Holy Communion or Confession from any priest while he is sick! That used to be what our elders called “common sense” but nowadays is seen as some sort of punishment or, dare I write this foul word, bullying. “How dare you tell me that I cannot receive Communion,” today’s average Catholic would harrumph. “Who are you to tell me to stay in my pew? I might as well stay home, then, since you have excommunicated me!” No, you have an obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days but you only have an obligation to receive Holy Communion (while in a state of grace) once a year, around Easter. Many Saints and “ordinary” people attended even daily Mass (non-obligatory) while receiving Holy Communion only rarely. How many, in years gone by, Catholic school teachers, along with the entire student body, began the day attending the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass yet almost never received Holy Communion because, of necessity, they broke the fast with breakfast before leaving home? Still, Mass attendance was understood to be a great gift, an essential part of their Catholic education and upbringing. Their feelings were not hurt when “all” they were able to do was prayerfully accompany Our Lord as He offered His Life for theirs. As for confessions, if Father is sick and you are prone to easily catching illnesses, you may wish to wait until after his recovery to approach for a purely devotional confession, as you are both breathing in the same air in a tight, enclosed space. On the other hand, if your immune system is in good shape, you likely need not worry about either Communion or Confessions. Only you know how easily you pick up germs. Lastly on this topic, Father simply cannot make hospital calls during his illness unless the person is dying. Giving a cold to someone who is trying to recuperate could cause severe problems. It is not, obviously, an issue for those already on their deathbed.
Back to God’s timing being perfect. We have been having an unusually dry autumn but when we did finally get rain, we really got a hard, driving rain. Whichever direction the wind was blowing was exactly the way necessary to make the water come pouring in through the chapel ceiling. Why is this good timing? Well, we had a leak in the chapel quite some months ago and got it patched. Our secretary was getting quotes on getting the roofs (to this priest’s untrained eyes, the chapel, rectory, and school all seem to have the same type and age of roof and the same need of repair/replacement) but she went out on medical leave and hasn’t yet returned, so nobody followed up on this. Now we are able to get some quotes and might have a better job done when it is not 100 degrees outside with thunderstorms every afternoon. If we didn’t get just the right rain with just the right wind at just this time, we probably would have forgotten about the roof problems until next summer. As I said, good timing. We have a lot of wood, duct work, drywall, and carpet to replace (and re-install a reredos and altar rail, perhaps?). If you would like to help, let me know!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka