From the Pastor: The Cardinal’s Visit Approacheth!
His Eminence, Raymond Leo Cardinal Burke, will celebrate a Pontifical Solemn High Mass on Sunday, October 30, at 10:30 am. None of that should be new news to anyone. But as the day approaches, more and more people are asking questions, most of which I cannot answer! How many people are we expecting? I have no idea. We are getting a little less than 800 people for Masses on a typical weekend right now. Will they all show up at this one Mass? Perhaps. If so, we will fill the church and the social hall and still have people outside. Will many decide to go to the 7:30 Mass instead of fighting the crowds at 10:30? Perhaps. If so, depending on how many do this, we may all fit in the church. Heck, we may even have empty pews in the church if enough people do this! Will people from outside of the parish come to Mass? Perhaps. But even guessing how many is fraught with unknown factors. Will everyone who attends Traditional Latin Mass at St. Justin Martyr in Largo, St. Anthony the Abbot in Brooksville, Christ the King in Sarasota, the SSPX, or the Old Roman Catholic Church come here? It is highly unlikely, although they are the ones most likely to have heard that the Cardinal is coming here. Will even a small group come from each of those places? Perhaps. But none of them are too close, so perhaps not. Will people who don’t usually attend Traditional Latin Mass come? Perhaps, for his Eminence is well thought of by many people outside of TLMs, too. But, then again, how would they have heard of his plans? I haven’t seen any news about this Mass or the rest of what the Cardinal is doing while he is in town even in our diocesan news outlets. Traditional Catholic media, secular media, and mainstream Catholic media have all been silent as well, as far as I know. [Note: that is just an observation, not a complaint!] So, how many people are we expecting? A rough guess puts it between 53 and 1428 people, give or take a few.
Fortunately, some of the questions are easier to answer. Will there be coffee and donuts after Mass? This burning question gets asked more than any other. The answer is, yes, we will have coffee and donuts. But, because the social hall will be set up for maximum seating, there will be no tables inside. Trying to set up the coffee and donuts in there only after the Mass is done would be, due to the crowds and chairs already in place, impossible. So the ECCW is setting up outside, between the church and school. Another question deals with “real” food, as if donuts are not really food! At one time we looked into getting a few food trucks to come but there are logistical problems with that if we get a large crowd. Where to park the trucks, for instance, if the crowd is large, where they won’t take up valuable parking spots and yet still have enough room around them to handle the lines of people waiting for food. But, as it turns out, the Troops of St. George have taken the reigns and will provide a cookout as they have been doing for the Sundays in which we chant Vespers in the afternoon.
Another question deals with tickets to enter the church for Mass. Where do we get them? How much do they cost? What if we forget them? (OK, so that is more than one question.) This is another issue that we found ourselves rethinking. We obviously cannot sell tickets to attend Mass. People have a right to attend the Holy Sacrifice without cost. Anything they give to the collection is certainly a free-will offering, not a set fee. Those contributions are between the giver and God, ultimately, as to how much and how often they should put money in the basket. But if I sell tickets, that becomes a problem at my own Judgment, when God will ask for accountability for those I may have excluded due to poverty or ability to make it to the “ticket window” on time. Plus, if we give out tickets to our parishioners so that they get the first chance of getting a “good seat” in the church or hall, many will be left extremely unhappy if the crowd is large, for, as mentioned above, we may not be able to fit everyone inside even if just our own parishioners show up en masse to Mass. It would also necessitate having the ushers become a combination of police officers and bouncers, checking tickets at the door, turning away those without tickets, and having to make decisions on who gets in and who stays out. Who wants to turn away the little old lady with a walker who claims to have lost her ticket? Or the huge bruiser in the pin-striped suit pushing his way through with his Boss and Family in tow? (Nah, that would only happen in New York!)
I will end with just one more question for which I have no definitive answer at this time. Will the Mass be streamed live? I personally do not have the technical ability to do that but it still may be done by one or more of our parishioners. There has been talk about it.
Bring your lawn chair and umbrella in case you are outside for Mass or staying for food afterward. Be patient and prayerful and be sure to thank those who are giving up “their spot” in Mass so that they can serve in various ways.
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka