COVID 19 – What a Scare?
There is no doubt that the COVID 19 virus is real and that it is pandemic at this point. This is fact. Set aside any conspiracy theories or any other speculation, no matter how many facts one may have. The fact is it is here and it is real.
So now what?
Faith must be the first response. We must turn to our faith, hope and trust in the Lord with every ounce of our strength and with Christian courage. Come what may: get the virus, don’t get the virus, survive the virus; die from the virus. In any case the fact remains the same, we must stay in the state of grace and then come what may, we have no fear.
The most important thing I can say right now is get in the state of grace. GO TO CONFESSION! Without this first step, there is no hope. Without this first step, our hearts are not configured to receive God’s grace that may heal us of the virus or preserve us from the virus. If we are not friends with God (in the state of grace) why should He help us?
Once we are in the state of grace, then we should do everything else spiritual and practical to be and remain healthy. We are called to good stewardship of our body’s health and wellbeing. This includes our health of mind and body, to eat right, sleep right, work right, rest right, think right, feel right… but more important than our body is our spirit. While we may have cause to neglect body and mind, we never may neglect the spirit.
This leads to the question of what to do about social distancing as they are calling it. It is certainly a good to not spread disease to others. In fact, if we knowingly do so we would be guilty of sin and of murder if they should die from it. With this fact in mind, we want to not only take care of our self, but of others as well. This is part of love they neighbor as thy self. Social distancing through self isolation (quarantine) or some other safety precaution like mask, gloves, washing of hands, not touching, sneezing properly… is a good thing.
As Americans, we love our freedom, but we are not free to spread disease. It may then become a right and duty of the bishops and state to say no Mass or any other gatherings. If the state imposes a universal or localized quarantine, they may even have the right to say violators will be shot on sight. Let us hope and pray that never becomes necessary.
It is good and prudent to start with basic safety precautions. Limiting contact and self quarantine if we are sick or know we have come into contact. Certainly it is good to stop the illicit practice of holding hands during the Lords Prayer, the optional and irreverent sign of peace and the unnecessary and imprudent practice of receiving the Precious Blood. They should not be done anyway.
But I look at some other things…
I heard one priest is taking all the missals out of the pews so they do not spread the disease. What about the pews themselves? Do people not sit in them and touch them? Do not other people then come along and sit in them and touch them? How many people simply lean on the pew in front of them with their filthy, germ infected hands? And he is worried about the missals?
Another told me his priest is training young people to be martyrs to go out and take care of the sick, taking them communion and offering company. Great! That is certainly brave and selfless. It might even be an act of martyrdom if they die. But if it is OK to put your life in danger to do corporal acts of mercy, then why is it not OK to do so to go to Mass and give God the glory and praise that is rightfully His? Is this not a higher value and even a moral duty?
I caution people of the imprudence of receiving from the common cup at Mass. I ask them, would you go into a restaurant, go to a stranger’s table and drink from their glass? Of course not. People have disease. But, people tell me, God will protect me when receiving from the common cup as it is His Blood. That is the sin of presumption, to presume that God will intervene supernaturally in ordinary matters. He can, but to presume it is a sin. But say for a moment that it is true, then will God not even more so protect us from disease when we go to Mass? Why the fear? Why the cancelations?
If presumption is a sin, then should we cancel Mass? My answer is no. Why?
We need the graces of Mass and the Eucharist. The world in this time of crisis needs what we have to offer as the Catholic Church. All grace comes through the Church. No other religion can offer what we can. And they need it! It is heroic and virtuous, like those young adults going out putting their life at risk to help people. In fact this is one of the reasons where we can morally neglect bodily health. We do so without neglecting our spiritual health for we would be doing good by loving neighbor.
How is this danger of going to Mass different from the danger of receiving from the common cup? Receiving from the common cup is not necessary for salvation. You are denied nothing if you do not receive from the cup. On the other hand, if you miss Mass, you are denied EVERYTHING that matters and you fail in your duty.
What of watching Mass on TV and spiritual communion? Is this not the same? If you are sick or have been exposed then yes. It is your only moral option. But for the healthy, we need to go and be present to the sacrifice, even though there may be risks. It is that important. This is courage. This is living Faith, Hope and Trust.
Certainly, we still take the proper and prudent precautions as mentioned above. We do not take unnecessary risks, but praising and glorifying God is not an unnecessary risk. It is very important and necessary and even a duty.
No one ever said the Faith is easy or safe, but the world is depending on us. We may be able to obtain God’s mercy and intervention; not by presumption, but by our prayers and sacrifice, by our Faith, hope and trust and by our not willing to give in to the fear of worldly affliction.