Holy Week: Staying Home

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.

Comparisons and Not Taking Crazy Risks

The COVID-19 disease has been reported in all but a handful of countries. More than a million folks are infected: upwards of 240,000 in America and 865 known cases in Minnesota.

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

Challenge and Opportunity

Given what we know today, slowing COVID-19’s spread by staying home seems reasonable. It’s one way we can support the common good.

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.”

Virtually There

On the ‘up’ side, our local parishes will be celebrating liturgies for Holy Thursday Mass, Good Friday Service, Easter Vigil Mass, Easter Day Masses.

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.

I’m also glad that I can still do Eucharistic adoration. Virtually, which isn’t the same as being there. But it’s better than nothing, so I’m a happy camper.

One more thing.

The COVID-19 pandemic isn’t the first time Catholics have had to do without easy access to the Eucharist. We’ve got prayers for this sort of 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

My Jesus,
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.

Anima Christi
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:

1 New rules:

2 What we knew, what we know:

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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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