From the Pastor: I’m Outa Here!
About a month ago I told you that I was going to soon take a little vacation with my mom and my older sister. Now the vacation is finally here. As you read this during the homily time of the Saturday Vigil or Sunday Mass, our ship will have already departed for the Eastern Caribbean. If you see me still here, something went terribly wrong! I had written that my cruise was for 8 days (Saturday, June 24 through Sunday, July 2) and someone told me that I can’t count all of that time as vacation. “Normal” people, I was told, don’t count the weekends in their vacation day count, but rather only count weekdays, since those are their “working days.” Since the weekends are the priests’ “working days” in the eyes of most people, I have to count vacation days backward compared to “real” people with “real” jobs. So the first Saturday doesn’t count as vacation, as I will be celebrating the morning Mass before I go, making it a work day. The Sunday of my return doesn’t count as vacation, since I will be back in time to, if need be, celebrate the evening Mass, making it, too, a work day. And, because weekdays are considered the priest’s “weekend” according to this method of thinking, the Monday through Friday that I am gone don’t count as vacation, either. So in total I will be on vacation for only Sunday, June 25 and Saturday, July 1. The person telling me this was a real killjoy. I was sooooo looking forward to just over a week of vacation. Now I am depressed that I will only be getting away for two days!
During those “two days” on which I am gone, there will be plenty of priests around here to make sure that all spiritual necessities and emergencies are taken care of. Father Emmanuel is going to be celebrating all of the Traditional Latin Masses, while Fathers Dorvil, Tuoc and Peter will cover the Vietnamese, Malayalam and English Masses. As of this writing, Father Emmanuel has been celebrating the weekday Low Mass for a few weeks and he is now pretty good at it and has even celebrated the daily chanted Mass, too (which is the most simple form of a High Mass), but he has not yet celebrated a Missa Cantata with Incense. Those of you at the Sunday 10:30 TLM will either witness him doing this for the very first time or, if his nerves get the best of him, a simple chanted Mass instead. All joking aside, The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is not something to be played around with, so he will only “go High” if he is confident of doing it, if not perfectly, at least competently.
I don’t think the other priests will let Fr. Emmanuel starve for the week, but, just in case, if anyone wishes to take him out to eat or bring some food to the rectory for him, I am sure he won’t mind. As long as he is on your minds, I ask that you offer up a prayer or two for him to find a rectory to stay at in Pensacola, where he is hoping to work on a Master’s Degree in Mathematics at his bishop’s request. So far, all of his leads have petered out, and there is no room at the inn. Because his student visa extension was obtained through the University of West Florida, if he cannot find housing and is not able to attend classes there he will be unable to stay in the US. So please, offer yet another prayer for him. The difficulties of getting another student visa so that he could return here if he loses this one are so great that he would probably never come back for his degree.
As I am writing this, there are three weather formations brewing. Brett, plus Cindy and Don (if they get named) all seem to be heading a little bit south of where we will be traveling before passing into the Gulf of Mexico and up and away from both the ship and the parish. But what to do if a tropical storm or hurricane comes our way? Pray and don’t worry, in the words of St. Padre Pio. On the ship, we shouldn’t have to worry, since we will simply (simply!) change course and maneuver around the worst of it. If we miss a couple of ports, Oh Well... And if the ship is rocking and rolling, we will have a great time watching the dishes slide off the tables, the patio furniture fall into the pool, people stumbling around as if quite drunk even early in the morning, and things like that. We will just make the best of it and know for certain that we are on a boat in the middle of the ocean! That is the reality that we understood when signing up for a cruise and yet we still got on board, anyway. Meanwhile, back here you all should just use as much common sense as possible. Come to Mass only if it is safe to do so. Mass will still be celebrated, since the priests don’t have to travel to get to church. Everyone might be wet and there is always the possibility of not having electricity for the lights or A/C but prayers in the middle of a storm are always worth the sacrifice. But don’t come if it is unsafe for either you or for those who would have to rescue you.
See you in a week or so!
With prayers for your holiness,
Fr. Edwin Palka