Excerpts From Monsignor’s bulletin letters Providence Never Fails the COVID-19 Pandemic
…You know that I rarely yield this space for my weekly letter to another writer. But I’m going to do so this weekend. I’m reprinting here a recent letter from Timothy Cardinal Dolan to the people of the Archdiocese of New York.
Cardinal Dolan has been a longtime friend. I met him over 25 years ago when I was the vocation director for the archdiocese and then Msgr. Dolan was the rector of the North American Seminary in Rome. He has a great way about him. His letter is spot on in making the points I wish to make:
God told us, “Remember to keep holy the Lord’s Day!” For two millennia, we Catholics have believed that we best keep Holy the Lord’s Day by Sunday Mass.
Yes, for the last year, we have prudently been able to decide that the emergency health crisis can allow us to excuse ourselves from that God-given obligation. Our elderly or people with compromising conditions that weaken them can still excuse themselves, as has always been the case.
But for the majority of us—are we going to restaurants? To the kids’ soccer and little league games? To the store? To the beauty parlor? To gatherings with family and friends? Well, then, it’s time to get back to Mass.
One of our fine pastors gave me this incident. He stopped at the supermarket in his neighborhood for a bit of shopping. There he kept meeting parishioners who greeted him and told him how they missed Sunday Mass and wanted to get back. Finally, exasperated, he replied, “Here you are in a crowded store shopping, taking your time, in contact with items touched by hundreds of people. Church is a lot safer! Come back to get food for your soul!”
A year ago, we, your pastors, advised you not to come to church. We had no choice, since wise health guidelines required us to close our church buildings. We reminded our people that protecting our health, and that of others, in the midst of an international pandemic were very good moral reasons not to attend Mass.
Our parishes responded with live-stream Masses, but all know those, however much appreciated, are not the same as “being there.” In the summer, those health precautions eased up a bit, and we could re-open and invite a limited number back.
Our parishes rose to the occasion with scrupulous cleaning, sanitation, ventilation, distancing, and restrictions—masks, no holy water or sign of peace, no contact or Communion from the chalice—and you gradually began to return. No more gradual about it! It’s time to get back to Sunday Mass!
We have just celebrated our highest holy day—Easter! Jesus has risen from the dead! That very night, the gospel tells us, He celebrated Mass with the two disciples He had met on the road to Emmaus. He did that evening what He had done the Thursday before at His Last Supper. And, “They recognized Him in the breaking of the bread!”
We recognize Jesus at Mass and Holy Communion. We enter again the eternal, infinite mystery of His death on the cross and resurrection from the dead. Every Sunday Mass is a renewal of the Last Supper, Good Friday, and Easter. It’s time to get back to Sunday Mass!
Wear masks, yes! Get tested, you bet! Wash hands, please! Get vaccinated as soon as you can, sure! Keep social distancing, of course! Don’t go if you’re sick, elderly or your health is shaky, obviously! Don’t shake hands! Be grateful for the good folks carefully sanitize the Church after each Mass. But, for God’s sake, get back to Sunday Mass!
We need medicine! We need food for the soul! We need vaccination from sin, Satan and eternal death! We need herd immunity as sheep under Christ our Good Shepherd. All this we behold at Mass! How can we stay away?
Easter blessings! See you at Mass! (Timothy Cardinal Dolan)…
…The weather was beautiful. Plants and flowers were peeking out to bloom again in the warm temperatures and sunshine. Our wonderful parish began to come back to life again in the warmth and Sonshine of the Risen Lord!
We had about 1750 people at all the Easter Masses combined. Now, that is certainly up from last year’s number: Zero! Compared to attendance at Easter 2019, which was 3115, it was larger than what I had even dared to hope for. It was about 56% of “normal.” Our combined weekend Mass attendance for the past several months has hovered just under 1,000.
I was also so heartened by the number of people at church for Holy Thursday and Good Friday. Again, it was beyond my expectations. We nearly ran out of consecrated Hosts at the Good Friday Liturgy.
For one thing, given the vaccine availability, I suspect more people are comfortable in going places. Second, and more importantly, I get the distinct feeling that people are “hungering” to get back to Mass and to the sacraments. This is confirmed by the record number of confessions we heard during the last part of Lent. Alleluia!
…At least as I write this, I’m not sure how the Indianapolis 500 Mile Race will be conducted this year. And I’m not certain how we will handle our usual summer events here like the Wednesday Hot Dog Nights, the Dr. Brad Hale Memorial Fireworks Night, or even our Fall Fest. We shall see. Pray that we can resume all of these pretty much as before!...
…Ask Monsignor a Question: Will we need to sign-up for Masses for Easter weekend just as we did at Christmas? (Via E-mail)
No. For one thing, Marion County has increased the percentage of the church seating capacity we can use to 75%. We’ve been at 50%. Second, while it was sort of effective at Christmas it was not perfect. The sad thing was that some folks who signed-up did not come and did not let us know they were not coming. This prevented others who wanted to come to stay away; they thought each Mass was full.
Our plan is to use each pew in a couple sections of the church while the other two sections will be marked off so as to use just every other pew. I am hoping families and individuals have enough common sense to social distance. We do it in stores; we ought to be able to do it here…
Ask Monsignor a Question: Are you aware that most boxes of masks are labeled: “These masks offer no protection from COVID-19, any other virus, or any contaminant.” (Via email)
Yes, I am. I think it is true. But I also take this statement to mean that the mask does not protect me from COVID-19 or other virus. It can protect others with whom I come into contact. I may have the virus but no symptoms. So I could conceivably blow virus germs around the place without knowing it. The mask is meant to protect others—not the wearer.
I hesitated to answer this question because I am aware that there is so much controversy and divided opinions about masks and multiple other things concerning the current pandemic. COVID-19 is evil and is a great help to the Devil who constantly seeks to spread division and falsehoods.
I’m well aware that many of you may have a different response to this mask question. Lots of strong opinions are out there from Doctor Oz to the Wizard of Oz. But I have chosen to listen to much respected health authorities including some who are parishioners here.
The idea that the mask protects others from being infected makes sense to me. It is one of the main reasons why surgeons and nurses wear masks in hospital operating rooms. Facemasks have long been thought to confer protection to the patient from wound infection and contamination from the operating surgeon and other members of the surgical staff.
At the same time, like most people, I sure don’t like wearing a mask. I’m tired of forgetting to put it on—or even take it off! Recently I was on an airplane. At the airport, we all wore masks and were required to social distance six-feet apart when in any line. We all wore masks on the flights. But the person next to me wasn’t even six-inches away, let alone six-feet! So, yes, much of this is confusing.
When this pandemic settles down, I am thinking about sponsoring a special event. Draft-card burning was a symbol of protest performed by thousands of young men in the United States and Australia in the 1960s and early 1970s. The first draft-card burners were American men taking part in the opposition to United States involvement in the Vietnam War.
So, I’m hoping everyone will join me in a Mask-Burning Ceremony at a later date. But likely not anytime real soon!