From the Pastor: Soup and Stations Q&A
I underestimated the number of people who have never been to our Lenten Friday Soup and Stations. A couple of questions have been brought forth which deserve to have the answers distributed more widely than just to the one asking the question. But there is something that I must address before I can get to the Q&A. A couple of weeks ago, either during the 10:30 Mass or during the social time afterward, one of our parishioners had his SUV’s catalytic converter stolen. These things cost up to several thousands of dollars to replace after they have been hacked off by thieves, who supposedly get a few hundred dollars for them when they take them to shady car repair shops. We have men who walk around looking for such dastardly evil-doers but this one slipped by. The car was parked in the parking spots back next to the rectory where there are no security cameras. We have stepped up the number of eyes on the lookout for guys just hanging out for no good reason. We are also installing security cameras back there and increasing the number and coverage of the cameras on the church and school buildings. What a shame that we have to spend hours and dollars just to keep people who obviously want a quick trip to hell from committing further mortal sins. And, yes, I believe that stealing from the Church, even from cars in the parish parking lot, is a mortal sin.
And now we get around to the topic at hand, the Lenten Friday Soup and Stations. Question number one: Since Bishop Parkes has dispensed us from St. Patrick’s Day abstinence, can we bring in meat on March 17? Answer: Just because a dispensation is offered doesn’t mean that you need to take it! I imagine that his reason for giving the dispensation is to keep the many, many Catholics who would wilfully, purposefully, eat corned beef on St. Patrick’s Day even though it falls on a Friday of Lent, from incurring the pain of mortal sin from doing so. But we have our simple meatless dinner, not at a St. Patrick’s Day party but united to the Stations of the Cross. It seems to me that it would be much better for the soul to keep this as a penitential dinner. You will commit no sin by eating meat that day, but, is it really that important after the Stations?
Another important question is, “Why do we have a 5:30 starting time? Couldn’t we start later for those who work or earlier for those who wish to avoid traffic and still have daylight in which to drive home?” Let me answer by telling you the history of our starting time. Our first Lent at Epiphany was in 2016. We started the Stations at 7:00 and got perhaps a dozen people to make the Way of the Cross. In 2017 we started at 7:00 but after the first two weeks, switched it to 6:00 and saw a slight improvement in the numbers attending, but an increase in complaints about traffic. In 2018 we started even earlier to avoid some of the worst traffic, and, with a 4:30 starting time, the numbers boomed. We even ran out of booklets. But we had been having monthly Friday Rosary and Family Game Nights and it seems that every family who normally attended those events also attended the Stations, plus the others who only attended the Stations. But the Family Rosary nights slowly lost their appeal and stopped and in 2019 the numbers at the Stations plummeted. We then had more people who asked if we could move the Stations to 5:30 so that they could come straight from work, and “Soup and Stations” was born in 2020 so that the family could meet dad here and share a simple family meal together after the prayers. For the 3 weeks before covid shut us down the church was packed and the hall was overflowing with crock pots and instant pots. Soups, salads, macaroni and cheese, and bread abounded. In 2021 we kept it at 5:30 and the people responded with the largest crowds ever. After the meal, I taught anyone who wanted to listen, how to use their Missal. The time stayed the same last year but I was in St. Augustine watching masked priests lead the Stations followed by take-out-only fish fries as covid hysteria still gripped the people up that way. This year we just kept the time the same as the last two years. Is it time to change it again? You tell me. As you can see, we have moved it from 7:00 to 6:00 to 4:30 to 5:30 all in a span of 8 years! The numbers at the first Soup and Stations this year (the second one will have occurred between me writing this and you reading it) were ok. Not great, not terrible. I forgot about teaching “How to Use Your Missal” until I went back through the calendar, but I am willing to do that again. Bring yours if you need help!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka