From the Pastor: Good Timing!
Last week we ran an old article in this space about what to do to prepare for a hurricane. The timing was perfect. First of all, I have been sick for a while now and wasn’t feeling up to writing an article for the bulletin. It was good to have something worthwhile to put in there without me having to work at it. The information it contained was meant especially to help all of the newer parishioners who may not know about such things as prayers to avert storms or the fact that we will still have Mass under most circumstances. The fact that we had a hurricane come through right after it ran in the bulletin was another piece of good timing. Not that one caused the other, mind you, but good timing nonetheless. Of course, it also showed how many people do not read that part of the bulletin, since the parish phones and other means of communication were lit up with the same question over and over. Will there be Mass? We had more people asking if we would continue to have Mass than actually attend weekday Masses during normal days! Or it seemed like it, at least. It was very similar to our annual routine on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday when everyone calling has a bulletin in their hand in which they look up the church phone number, yet don’t bother to look at the three places in that same bulletin for the Mass schedule. Which reminds me, Ash Wednesday is this coming week. Masses are at 4:00 am, 5:00 am, and 5:45 am, not at Epiphany, but at whatever parish is closest to your house. Just go very early to any of those churches and knock on the rectory door if the church is not yet open. Father will be very happy to cover you with sackcloth and ashes when you wake him up. Just don’t tell him that you read it here! But enough joking. Ash Wednesday really isn’t until the following week.
Hurricane Idalia came through pretty quickly instead of just hanging out in the Gulf and making everyone wonder what her plans might be. On Tuesday, we prayed the prayers from the Mass to Avert Storms. On Thursday, we prayed the prayers of the Mass of Thanksgiving for the storm having missed us. It is a pattern we have seen often enough. It would be nice if we never needed to pray either of those two Masses again but, this being Florida, I think we’ll keep the pages marked well! This time the eye of the storm stayed more than 100 miles away from us and we didn’t have any flooding, fallen trees, or damage to buildings or property. We didn’t even lose electricity. Thanks be to God.
Now for an update on my health. Two weeks ago I had no voice. Last week I had a voice but no hearing. At the time I am typing this out, I still have very little hearing. My ears are so blocked up that I cannot tell how loud or soft I am speaking. I cannot tell if I am chanting anywhere near on tune or not (although I am guessing not) when doing something so easy as leading the simple chants for Exposition and Benediction. I can’t understand most of what people are saying when they speak with me. There are some benefits to this. I haven’t been waken by the train all week. If there were any storms during the night the hurricane went through, I wasn’t bothered by them, let alone waken by them. But I still can’t hear well enough to hear confessions. All week long I have had to leave signs up stating that point. It is disappointing to people, but really, you would have to speak pretty loudly in order to make yourself understood, too loud for privacy. I am just starting to hear some crackling and squealing in my ears indicating that the congestion inside them (or whatever is doing this) is starting to break up. Perhaps by this weekend I will already be back in the confessional box. We shall see. The other symptoms are all slowly going away as well. Thank you for all your prayers. I want to say a special thank you to all of you who did not phone and text or knock on the rectory door but rather kept your prayers and other assistance between just you and God. Have you ever tried to rest and relax and recuperate under doctor’s orders but your loving family members keep calling or stopping by to check on you (all mothers raise your hands now!) and manage to keep even a small nap from being a reality? Now imagine your family is 900 plus strong (Bauers, quit scoffing at such a low number!) and each decides that their visit, their cold remedy, their phone calls, their text messages, and/or their special meals (all good things in themselves) are absolutely necessary for your well-being. The constant barrage of love, rather than being of assistance, actually makes things worse. This is what it can be for priests who are loved too much, too. Thankfully, I had both my mother and sister able to run interference for me to push me through the crowds and get me from the church to the rectory without being stopped. The office staff kept a variety of tactical weapons such as drones, bazookas, and electric cow prods on hand to stop anybody trying to sneak past the trenches and barbed wire during the week. And the sign on the front door to the rectory telling people to Go Away kept most people from attempting to sneak past the other defenses when nobody was looking. Thanks for understanding!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka