Holy Week starts tomorrow. Together with Easter, it’s the high point of the Catholic calendar. I’d be going to Our Lady of the Angels — the parish church — on Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday AKA Holy Thursday, Good Friday and Easter.
I would, that is, if the COVID-19 pandemic wasn’t in progress.
On March 25, 2020, Minnesota’s governor issued executive order 2020: “Directing Minnesotans to Stay at Home,” unless we had an important errand. Like getting food or exiting a burning building: that sort of thing.
The local parishes had already been changing our routines. Public Masses had been suspended until April 13 and Eucharistic adoration was moved to the St. Paul’s sanctuary. That last was to let us maintain a six-foot separation.
On March 27, Bishop Kettler said that the diocese churches would be locked until at least April 10. That means no public Masses. No Eucharistic adoration. Nobody in the parish offices.1
I don’t like it. But, as I’ve said before, I don’t have to like it.
And no public Mass doesn’t mean “no Mass.” Private Masses, the sort priests do daily, are still being done.
So far, the disease has killed 24 Minnesotans.
But compared to the Black Death, the COVID-19 pandemic may not seem so bad. Sure, 90% of the world’s students are getting a vacation. And Italy banned funerals.
But we don’t have bodies piling up in the streets. Except in places like Guayaquil, Ecuador.
Not yet, anyway.
But ‘my end of the boat isn’t sinking’ doesn’t seem like a good reason to take crazy risks.
One thing we do know about the COVID-19 disease is that it’s highly contagious, and that the virus can be carried on droplets from sneezes and coughs.
Carried a short distance, which is why that two-meter, six-foot, whatever, distance is important. And why the CDC recommended using DIY face masks yesterday.2
And since we’re staying home, we’ve got more time for prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Which also seems reasonable.
“Statement Regarding Dispensation from Sunday Mass Obligation”
Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda, Archdiocese of St. Paul & Minneapolis (March 12, 2020)
“…The spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) presents a challenge for everyone, including us Catholics, but it also offers an opportunity. Lent calls us to more fervent prayer, fasting and almsgiving. The current medical situation invites us especially to direct our spiritual exercises to benefit the sick and those caring for them, including the Church’s ministers….
“…When we unite for the common good, we can overcome fear and courageously face the challenges in the days ahead.”
And then, a week later, Divine Mercy Sunday Adoration and Mass.
I won’t be there, physically, but these aren’t exactly “private” Masses. They’ll be streamed live from St. Paul’s. It’s no substitute for being really, physically there. But under the circumstances, I see live streaming Mass as a good thing.
One more thing.
“Spiritual communion” isn’t the same as the real, physically-present thing. But I don’t mind having backup procedures.
“An Act of Spiritual Communion
by St. Alphonsus Liguori
I believe that You are present
in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there
and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.
by St. Ignatius Loyola
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, embolden me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within thy wounds hide me.
Never permit me to be parted from you.
From the evil Enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
and bid me come to thee,
that with your saints I may praise thee
for age upon age.
(From Prayers, Catholic Parishes of St. Alexius, Our Lady of the Angels and St.Paul’s)
More, or less, of the same:
- “Pandemic Perspectives”
(March 31, 2020)
- “Dreary Outside, Self-Isolating Inside”
(March 28, 2020)
- “Self-Isolation in the Family”
(March 26, 2020)
- “Staying In this Weekend”
(March 21, 2020)
- “Mass Suspended: COVID-19 and the Common Good”
(March 17, 2020)
- St. Cloud Diocese
- Bishop Kettler’s update to pastors
Bishop Kettler’s Statements, Coronavirus Updates and Spiritual Resources for Prayer and Engagement, Diocese of St. Cloud MN
(March 27, 2020)
- “Bishop Kettler: Public Masses in diocese suspended through April 13”
Bishop Kettler’s Column, The Central Minnesota Catholic (March 17, 2020)
- Bishop Kettler’s update to pastors
- Use of Cloth Face Coverings to Help Slow the Spread of COVID-19, Prevent Getting Sick, Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), CDC
- In the news
- “Ecuador’s COVID-19 Outbreak Is One Of South America’s Biggest,” John Otis, NPR (April 3, 2020)
- “Coronavirus: How Covid-19 is denying dignity to the dead in Italy,” Sofia Bettiza, BBC News (March 25, 2020)
- My take