March 12, 2020 § Leave a comment
You might think the COVID-19 concerns are panic and overblown – or you might think that we aren’t doing enough fast enough. The reality is probably somewhere in between, but I want to take a minute here to plead with our church leaders to think through what coronavirus can mean for your parish.
Some quick facts:
Your parishioners are probably older. Sure we all want to think we belong to the one fabulously vibrant youthful parish, but the truth is that you have a lot of the 65+ crowd in your pews every Sunday.
You bring people in the community who normally aren’t together into the same space every mass.
Your children are germ machines.
People touch things and each other at Mass, they sneeze, they cough – they spread diseases.
Just think of this scenario: Little Bobby goes to school and contracts coronavirus from a classmate on Friday. He is asymptomatic, but he is carrying the virus. He sneezes into his hands on the way to mass because he is 6 and six-year-olds do that sort of thing. Mom and dad are busy talking about the fact that the big game they have tickets to this weekend was canceled – no one thinks to wash their hands before entering the chapel. The family enters the church and Bobby places a finger into the holy water and makes the sign of the cross, he touches three pews on the way to his seat, he runs his hands over the back of the pew in front of him. He shakes Susan’s hand at the sign of peace. Susan lives in the retirement community across the street. In three days she will be showing signs of illness, in 14 days most of the people living in her community will have COVID-19 and several of them will die.
This is not unlikely.
If your Bishop has not taken the brave and prudent step to suspend mass what can you reasonably do?
At the very least
- Remove the holy water fonts
- Do not have the Sign of Peace
- Put in hand sanitizer stations
- Ask parents to keep a watchful eye on their small children and ask them not to touch anything
- Ask parishioners to stay home if they or a family member are ill
- Clean surfaces in the parish between masses.
- remove your missals and hymnals
- Ask parishioners to spread out and not sit close together (6 ft between families is a good guide)
- Add more masses and ask parishioners to attend off time masses.
- suspend offering the Eucharist under both species (no communal cup)
- cancel all church events (including religious education)
If you are in a parish and your priest in not taking measures like this what can you do?
- Attend a less popular mass and sit well away from other parishioners
- Wash your hands before and after mass and when you return home
- Do not attend mass if you or a family member are ill
- Don’t touch anything you don’t have to (this includes touching or kissing images and statues)
- Stay close to home (if you attend mass while traveling or travel to attend mass you can spread germs either to the new location or bring them from the other location to your community)
- Pray that this passes quickly and that the situation is not as bad as experts are currently predicting
Some helpful links:
January 19, 2020 § Leave a comment
This is a beautiful and peaceful video exploring the world through a Coptic monk.
July 4, 2017 § 1 Comment
I somewhat hesitated sharing this video. Watch it first, if you are interested and want to avoid “spoilers”.
So you watched it?
Are you sure you don’t care about spoilers?
Ok – you have only yourself to blame at this point.
I loved this video. From the lady using confession to gossip about her snotty neighbor the the anguish of the priest when he realized that the penitent before him was the man who killed his father. And I get that he was lifting a burden by lying. But he was lying. I don’t think it was necessary for the story and there were other ways that it could have been dealt with.
When I considered sharing the video I hesitated. Do I really want to share this with such a problematic bit in the ending? It is human nature to pick these sorts of things apart and blow them up far past what the deserve. But in the end this video has several qualities that I think make it worthwhile.
First: the priest is just a guy — who at that moment is acting as God’s active conduit of mercy and love. It is a struggle for him, he does it (arguably) badly, but he does it. I think it is valuable for us to keep in mind that our priests are men, men who love and hate and weep and laugh. Media has a tendency to often either idolize priests or debase them. This video does neither.
Second: the penitent really needs confession and illustrates the need for confession. It is one of those common “Ask a Catholic Questions”: “Why do I need to confess to a priest, I can just confess to God.” Sure you can, but when you are heart torn and painfully aware of the magnitude of your sin, when you question the very possibility of redemption then you need to hear in the physical world the comfort of absolution. The penitent could have prayed for forgiveness a thousand times, but until he heard the words he would never be able to start letting go of the sin and the despair that accompanies it. One of Satan’s most successful lies is the idea that you don’t need to speak your sin to anyone but God. I chains us in despair and prevents us from acting forward in mercy and forgiveness.
Now for the problematic part.
We can look at the idea of lying to the penitent in a few ways. One rather artistic idea from the comments on the video was that our sins are washed away in confession to the point that in the eyes of God they never happen – so in a certain sense the priest’s father wasn’t killed by the penitent. But that is really an Obi Wan “certain point of view” moment and not really satisfactory.
We could also attempt to view it as just an act of Mercy. The priest lied to comfort a dying man There is no denying that the man who is relieved of this burden feels immense joy, but the joy was based on a lie. At the very end the priest even postulates that it might be worse that he lied as a priest. In the end if the priest had maintained honesty, forgiven the penitent both in the sacramental and in his own heart and had communicated that to the penitent we could have had a very powerful ending. Not the joy that the penitent shows, but a something based on reality and truth.
So in the end I decided to share this, not because it is perfect, but because its imperfections make me think and make for a good conversation. Is a lie ever worthwhile? If this is not such a case what would have been better and what would have looked like? How would Christ have approached this differently?
January 24, 2017 § Leave a comment
Bishop of Geneva and Doctor of the Church
Born August 21, 1567
Died December 28, 1622
Feast Day January 24
Author of: Introduction to the Devout Life among others.
Learn more at:
Image :Français : Saint François de Sales donnant à sainte Jeanne de Chantal la règle de l’ordre de la Visitation.
February 11, 2016 § Leave a comment
A friend once asked me why I “do Lent” when it isn’t in the Bible. Sailing right by the fact that there are many things that Christians do that really aren’t in the Bible, a bunch of things we don’t do that are in the Bible and Catholics don’t really hold to the idea that the Bible spells out all we need to do. (Note that Christ specifically commissions Peter to build his Church, but there is no where in the Bible where he mentions collecting the letters of his followers and using this scripture in addition to the Old Testament scriptures that He himself had) But the question about Lent still left me scratching my head. This friend celebrated Christmas and Easter as “Bible based” but missed that Jesus is often described as drawing away for a time for prayer and specifically in Mathew 4:1-11 his journey into the desert for 40 days is described. I am pretty sure if you are following the Magi and giving gifts on Christmas and marking that Biblical you will have a hard time chiding me as non-biblical for making small sacrifices in immitation of Jesus’ great fast.
As Catholics much of what we do is the living action of liturgy to keep us ever immersed in liturgy. Most of us aren’t going to drop everything and follow Christ into the desert like the Desert Fathers and Desert Mothers or take on the rigorous Asceticism of some of out Saints, but we can follow them in small ways within our own gardens.
So Lent brings us to our own desert. This year for me I am starting out rather badly as I have spent the last day and a half in bed and my car is in the shop. As a family we have given up TV and the children were remarkably on board with that. We are doing our 40 bags.
January 21, 2016 § Leave a comment