without fail, every Sunday, some person emails the entire Latin Mass community in my parish saying how “The bishops are so cowardly for cancelling Mass. Why are restaurants still open?? Sure I understand people are dying, and people may call me irresponsible for wanting Mass to be open to the public, but what about people’s souls. People’s souls are dying without the sacraments and we need to be like Saint XYZ who lived during a plague and went out and helped people.”
It just makes me want to tear my hair out. It’s so frustrating (for a myriad of reasons). Here are some of them:
a) it automatically makes anyone who dares argue with them sound like an impious heathen for wanting public Mass to stay closed
b) it shows how deeply ingrained our country’s puritan roots and disregard for the body is in the Catholic world
c) it shows a false piety and desire for a martyrdom God probably does not want for the vast majority of people
d) it shows a blatant disregard for people in the high risk category of this virus. It’s like saying, “I’d rather flaunt my right to worship publicly than not spread this deadly virus that could potentially kill lots of people.”
e) it shows a lack of knowledge of Church history, where people were not always able to attend Mass every week or even receive the Eucharist on a regular basis
It’s a tricky situation. I definitely think it was wise of the bishops to cancel public Masses. I don’t think it’s right for them to deny or be unable to perform certain sacraments like anointing of the sick and confessions, which could definitely be safely done if proper measures were taken. But I think limiting the amount of public events is important.
The problem is the word “essential.” People hear the phrase “Mass is not an essential event” and their hackles are instantly raised. How can Starbucks be essential but not Mass? Then the righteous outrage happens. I don’t think we should look at it in those terms. Obviously Mass is more important than Starbucks. That’s not the issue. Here’s the problem: there is a highly contagious virus that is spreading rapidly. We are unprepared to deal with it and the only means we really have to do that is limit as many places the public can gather as possible. Mass is a place where a lot of people gather and interact. That is literally the only reason they are closed. It’s not to deny us the Eucharist. It’s not an attack on religion. It doesn’t mean we care about bodies more than souls. Is it kind of ridiculous that Starbucks is still open? Yeah, maybe. But people still need to work and pay rent. A lot of things are out of our control right now.
It just blows my mind that people need to turn this into some political/religious attack on our souls, when there is a literal pandemic going on with people dying and measures to keep from dying are just blatantly disregarded as caring more for our bodies than our souls. The saints that did take care of people during plague were called to a very special vocation. Not everyone is called to be in the thick of the action. You can help people remotely. Give a friend a call, check in on someone who lives alone, order an elderly relative or acquaintance groceries. Crying out for public Mass right now is not the answer.
Thanks for coming to to my
rant Ted Talk