Missing Public Masses

The COVID-19 pandemic is still in progress.

But Catholics here in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, got good news over the weekend.

“Dear Friends in Christ,
“Bishop Kettler has asked us to begin planning for public Masses again. … Then, if all goes well, we can begin having public Masses sometime the week of May 18th….”
(Catholic Parishes of St. Alexius, Our Lady of the Angels, St. Paul’s (May 2020))

I see it as good news, anyway.

We still don’t know how public Mass will be restarted.

And maybe all won’t go well. A lot could happen before next week. A lot has happened in the two months since COVID-19 became an official pandemic.

Changing Routines

On March 11, two months ago today, the World Health Organization promoted COVID-19 from a “Public Health Emergency of International Concern” to a pandemic.

As far as we knew, there were only five cases in Minnesota. None of them in my town.

But within a week, the Minnesota governor banned public gatherings. The bishop in our diocese suspended public Masses until April 18. And the priests in our parishes did what the bishop said they should do.

Two months later, 115,781 Minnesotans have been tested for COVID-19 virus. Test results were positive for 11,799. Several folks with positive results work just a few minutes down the road.

591 Minnesotans have died from the disease. So far.

I didn’t, and don’t, like having no public Masses. And I’m not happy that the resumption date has been moved into mid-May.

But I think changing our routines made sense.1

The Eucharist: a Big Deal

On the ‘up’ side, the local parishes have been providing online video Masses.

They’re not a complete substitute for being there. Which is why each includes a prayer of spiritual communion, along the lines of St. Alphonsus Liguori’s. (April 4, 2020)

Video Mass not being a substitute for the real thing may need an explanation. Or maybe not. Either way, I’ll talk about it.

Each Mass is built around the Eucharist, the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.

That’s when our Lord comes to be with us under the appearance of bread and wine.

He doesn’t, apart from the very rare Eucharistic miracle, appear as actual flesh and blood. But he’s there. Really. Physically.2

And that’s why Mass is a very big deal. It’s also been a public relations problem for two millennia, and that’s another topic. (December 13, 2019; November 20, 2016)

Loving My Neighbors

So, if Mass is that important, how come I’m not denouncing our parish priests, bishop, archbishop and the Pope for making sense during this pandemic?3

Basically, it’s because I’m a Catholic. Which doesn’t mean I think popes never make mistakes. (July 30, 2017)

As a Catholic, I’m obliged to take care of my health, within reason. (Catechism, 2288, 2289, 2301)

I’m also obliged to act as if I love my neighbors. All my neighbors. (Matthew 5:4344, 22:3640; Mark 12:2831; Luke 6:31, 10:2537; Catechism, 1789)

I figure that includes changing my habits so that I’m less likely to infect them. And not fussing when other folks do the same.

On the other hand, I’m looking forward to public Mass.

And getting back into a weekly Eucharistic Adoration routine.

One of the folks running local Eucharistic Adoration called me this afternoon. Looks like it’ll be some time before that gets back to normal. Make that “resumes.” And that’s yet another topic.

Somewhat-related posts:

1 A mostly-Minnesota view of the COVID-19 pandemic:

2 Definitions:

EUCHARIST: The ritual, sacramental action of thanksgiving to God which constitutes the principal Christian liturgical celebration of and communion in the paschal mystery of Christ. The liturgical action called the Eucharist is also traditionally known as the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. It is one of the seven sacraments of the Church; the Holy Eucharist completes Christian initiation (1322 ff.). The Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is at the heart of the Church’s life (2177). See Mass.”

MASS: The Eucharist or principal sacramental celebration of the Church, established by Jesus at the Last Supper, in which the mystery of our salvation through participation in the sacrificial death and glorious Resurrection of Christ is renewed and accomplished. The Mass renews the paschal sacrifice of Christ as the sacrifice offered by the Church. It is called ‘Mass’ (from the Latin missa) because of the ‘mission’ or ‘sending’ with which the liturgical celebration concludes (Latin: ‘Ite, Missa est.‘) (1332; cf. 1088, 1382, 2192). See Eucharist; Paschal Mystery/Sacrifice.”
(Catechism of the Catholic Church, Glossary)

3 Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic:

About Brian H. Gill

I was born in 1951. I'm a husband, father and grandfather. One of the kids graduated from college in December, 2008, and is helping her husband run businesses and raise my granddaughter; another is a cartoonist and artist; #3 daughter is a writer; my son is developing a digital game with #3 and #1 daughters. I'm also a writer and artist.
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