Older updates from May 2020.

Friday, May 29.  P U B L I C   M A S S   R E S U M E S   J U N E   6 - 7  !  !  !

     Bishop Paprocki has permitted the resumption of public Masses the weekend of Trinity Sunday.  I am going to be gathering the necessary team to make this happen safely and efficiently.  This news just came out last night, and I have not yet digested all the instructions and guidelines that have been released.  There will be a limit of 25% of building capacity, which I think will be manageable without changing up the Mass schedule.  More news as it becomes available.

     In the mean time, you can read the bishop's letter here:  /media/pdf/Bishop_Paprocki_Letter_Announcing_Public_Masses_5_28_2020.pdf

     The diocese has prepared an informational flyer for parishioners, which you may view here:  /media/pdf/Parishioner_Brochure_for_Returning_to_Mass_.pdf

     The complete information is on the diocesan website here:  https://www.dio.org/parishreopeningplan

     Long story short, we are not quite back to normal yet.  There will be lots of sanitizing, cleaning, etc.  We will also have to re-arrange how we do a few things until things return to normal.  Things returned to normal after the Spanish flu.  They will return to normal after the coronavirus.  ***Don't let today pass without giving thanks to God for this development.

Friday, May 22.  Pentecost Novena.  Day 1 of the Pentecost Novena has been uploaded today.  You can find it here:  https://youtu.be/Den2IGdL5zc  I will upload the novena each day.

Wednesday, May 20.  I have read Msgr. Spalding's account of the Spanish Flu epidemic at the Diocesan Orphanage and posted it to youtube here:  https://youtu.be/weX5bggOvZM  My delivery is a little rough, even after what seemed like a zillion takes.

Saturday, May 16.  St. Mary's is hosting a family movie night and has invited our families along.  Here is the information:

This Week - Save the evening of May 20 from 7-9pm for a virtual movie night and moderated online discussion! Screenagers: Growing up in the Digital Age is a powerful look at the influence of digital devices and social media on our youth and families. Hear real stories and doctors' findings, and strategize how to make the best use of technology in your homes while promoting the harmony and maturity we all desire. All families with middle school and high school students are strongly encouraged to attend. The Discussion will be divided into Middle School students and High School students, each with their parents, and it will be moderated by St. Mary's clergy and parents. Contact Fr. Paul with any questions: frpaul@stmarysalton.com.
Register now for free at https://bit.ly/Screenagers-StMarys
     In other news, I will be put something in English on the youtube channel:  Msgr. Spalding's edifying account of when the Spanish flu came to the orphanage, as he records it in the parish Annals.  The Annals are a valuable document, as they contain much history based on personal recollection and documents which have subsequently been lost.  When I record and post it, I will drop a link here. 

Tuesday afternoon, May 13.  Plan for distribution of Holy Communion on Sundays.  Here is the letter that I am sending to the parish describing the procedure for distribution of Holy Communion, together with some reflections on what it means to be receiving Communion under such strange circumstances.  It is going out in today's mail.  If you know of a parishioner who does not have internet, please make them aware of this.  Pastor's Letter on Holy Communion

Tuesday, May 12.  New candles.  The 7-day candles under the stairs in front of O.L. of Perpetual Help are back!  We have a new supply of them, as well as the 6-hour lights in front of the Infant of Prague.  The candle offerings of $2.00 and 25 cents defray the cost of the candles.  Don't worry if you don't have exact change.  Put in a little extra.  Someone else might really need a candle and not have the money.

Monday, May 11.  G o o d   N e w s  ! ! !  Pursuant to the permission of the Bishop, the priests of the Alton Deanery met today on the internet and formulated a plan to begin the distribution of Holy Communion starting on Sunday.  I will be sending a letter tomorrow with the details of how we will accomplish this within the parameters of the limitations of the stay-home order.  The dispensation from Sunday Mass remains in place, and I want you to be safe and prudent.  If you or someone in your household is in a high-risk category, you may judge it prudent to say home and pray from there and offer that sacrifice to God.

Sunday, May 10.  In the first place, a happy Mother's Day to all mothers.  Happy signs of a return to normal are beginning.  Music has returned.  This morning's Mass is a low Mass with English hymns.  The hymns cover much of the silence and form an added dimension to our prayer.  In this I was ably assisted by Martha and Charlie, who were happy to be back to doing what they do as church musicians.  (Find the link on this page:  https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCck1EG13IPHWqt5TrhGzsHw/.)  Second, we are starting to get flowers in the rectory garden, which means flowers for the altar!  Purple irises seem to be the first flowers that are ready.

     Third, the priests of the Alton deanery have a conference call on Monday about plans to distribute holy communion to the faithful in groups of less than ten people at a time.  I have been thinking this out, and I think I have a workable plan.  I'm going to "pull the trigger" just as soon as I get the plan approved.

     Fourth, we will resume publication of the bulletin starting with next Sunday, which may be picked up in church or read on-line at the link above.

     Friday, May 15, is the anniversary of the consecration of SS. Peter and Paul's.  The consecration took place in 1859 and was done by Archbishop Peter Richard Kenrick of St. Louis.  This is a high feast day in any church, and it takes precedence over all but the highest feasts.  The church building, is the seat of divine worship on earth and the place where Jesus Christ dwells among his people in the Blessed Sacrament.  The church represents the New Jerusalem, where we hope to praise God forever.  In it, we are baptized, shriven, and fed, and from it we depart when we are laid to rest.  It is truly "the house of God, and the gate of heaven."  (Gen. 28:17)

     (The saint who is getting "bumped" to make way for the anniversary is St. Isidore the Farmer, a Spanish saint who died in 1130.  He and his wife, St. Maria de la Cabeza, were peasant farmers.  The fact that they were both saints shows us that God opens the path of sanctity to all of us, of whatever state in life, whatever class, and whatever our level of education might be.)

     Lastly, the Mass intentions for this week are:  Sunday (4th Sunday after Easter), for the people of the parish; Monday, in reparation for the sins of bishops and priests; Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Robert & Jean Smith; Friday, special intentions; Saturday, deceased members of the Woelfel and Narup families.

Thursday afternoon, May 7.  * * * T h i s   j u s t   i n . * * *  Bishop Paprocki has issued a letter about resuming the distribution of holy communion to the faithful while observing certain precautions on account of the pestilence.  I am still reading the letter carefully.  I don't have a time-frame, as it will take a little time to work out how to manage everything smoothly and six-feet-apart.  I don't expect to be ready this weekend, but soon!

Tuesday, May 5.  I have moved confessions to the sacristy to the left of the altar, where we can keep six feet apart in a fairly big room.

     Public Service Announcement.  Do not bring your smart phone into the confessional.  Don't.  It jeopardizes the secrecy of your confession.  Without going into technical details, there is no way to be certain that a modern smart phone (or its microphone) is truly turned off and not listening in on you.  All the free services you have (facebook, gmail, etc., etc., etc.) make their living by collecting data on you and using it to sell ads targeted at you.  As I have said before, it would be disconcerting for you to get an ad targeted at you based on a sin that only you, God, and Alexa know about.  Just leave your phone in the car.  I never bring my phone into the confessional.  (I'm aware that there's an app for confession.  Don't use it in the confessional.)

Saturday, May 2.  First Saturday.  The Knights of Columbus have published two short articles on praying the Rosary (https://www.kofc.org/en/news-room/knightline/special-edition/week-of-april-27/five-reasons-should-pray-rosary.html) and devotion to Mary (https://www.kofc.org/en/news-room/knightline/special-edition/week-of-april-27/men-mary-prayer.html).   Obviously, coming from the K.C.'s, the articles are principally aimed at men, but women will find value in them, too.  (One word about the brown scapular which one article mentions.  To gain the spiritual benefits of wearing the brown scapular, you need to be invested in the scapular confraternity.  This is a short ceremony lasting all of three minutes, and any priest can do this.)

     Speaking of the Rosary, many Popes have highly recommended the Rosary.  Leo XIII wrote eleven short encyclicals on the Rosary which can easily be read at one sitting and digested at leisure.  (His encyclicals are here:  https://www.papalencyclicals.net/category/leo13.  Search the page for the word "rosary," and you will find them all.)  Pope St. John Paul II wrote a famous apostolic letter on the Rosary, in his usual dense and prolix style.  It's tougher going, but reading it may be a good spiritual project for the Month of May, Our Lady's own month:  http://w2.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/apost_letters/2002/documents/hf_jp-ii_apl_20021016_rosarium-virginis-mariae.html

     Also worth a look is Pope Pius XI writing on the Rosary in 1937.  https://www.papalencyclicals.net/pius11/p11grave.htm  The world was obviously slipping toward war, and the pontiff recommends recourse to Mary and her Rosary as a remedy.  (Is worth noting that in March of that year, he had issued within five days of each other encyclicals condemning Nazism and Atheist Communism, respectively:  https://www.papalencyclicals.net/pius11/p11brenn.htm and https://www.papalencyclicals.net/pius11/p11divin.htm.  Having read the former, I can tell you that it contains much of contemporary relevance.)  (As you may have guessed by now, you are listening in on my making up my own reading list...)

     Other Popes:  Pius XII, writing in 1951:  https://www.papalencyclicals.net/pius12/p12ingru.htm; St. John XXIII, in 1959, recommends his predecessors' documents and urges the recitation of the Rosary for the success of the Second Vatican Council, which he had recently called:  https://www.papalencyclicals.net/john23/j23grata.htm.  This list is by no means exhaustive.  For instance, Pope St. Paul VI wrote two encyclicals on devotion to Mary, as did other Popes, and they certainly would have spoken about the Rosary.  Searching through lesser papal documents and even speeches will surely turn up more than you can read in a year.

     What with this being the Month of May, let me remind you of what I wrote a couple weeks ago:  Fr. Jeremy Paulin at St. Mary's is spearheading a rosary crusade to Our Lady of the Rivers (whose shrine is across the river at Portage des Sioux).  Please say a rosary daily for the end of the coronavirus pestilence.  The riverbend parishes will be making a pilgrimage of thanksgiving afterwards.  For more information, please visit the following link:  https://stmarysalton.com/our-lady-of-the-rivers  You may find there a beautiful prayer composed by Fr. Jeremy as well as information regarding the origins of the shrine, which was built after Our Lady spared the town of Portage des Sioux from the flood of 1951.

Friday, May 1.  Feast of St. Joseph the Worker.  For a short reflection on the feast, see my homily at today's Mass.  (The homily begins at about 8:20 in the recording).  Pope Pius XII of happy memory instituted the feast of St. Joseph the Worker.  Its placement on May 1 (the communist "labor day") is no accident:  it is in the long tradition of attaching Catholic feasts to pagan feast day.

     For more on the Catholic view of labor and the value and dignity of a man's daily work (a woman's, too), look at Pope Leo XIII's great encyclical "Rerum novarum" from 1891:  http://w2.vatican.va/content/leo-xiii/en/encyclicals/documents/hf_l-xiii_enc_15051891_rerum-novarum.html.  This encyclical is still of great value today, and its continuing relevance has been testified to by the succession of popes who have issued their own encyclicals commenting on it and extending it to address changing economic conditions.  It is a very straightforward application of first principles to a new situation:  modern industrial labor.  One major take-away:  man has a supernatural end:  he was created by God, for God.  Any economic theory which does not take this into account is fundamentally flawed.  Pope Leo rejects socialism for reasons which still apply today.  What does he have to say about unrestrained capitalism?  You may be surprised.  Let's just say that the rejection of socialism does not necessarily align you with capital.  This is an encyclical that is very much worth reading.

     (As an aside, the calumny that Pope Pius XII was Hitler's stooge originated as a piece of communist propaganda.  As a historical theory, it has been completely discredited.  It is only pushed nowadays by people who have an ax to grind against the Church or by people who uncritically believe whatever they see on television or read on the internet.  But that's a story for another day.)