As the events concerning the Coronavirus (COVID-19) continue to evolve around the world, I thought it prudent to cover the topic of practicing our faith amidst the concerns and fears (albeit sometimes unwarranted) in the midst of this global pandemic, as declared by the World Health Organization.
Based upon information which I have received, there are several dioceses throughout the world which have closed their parishes for a period of time, until this matter becomes less alarming. Whether these decisions are right or wrong, all I can say is that we need to turn to prayer more now than ever before!
Outside of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, Heaven has armed us with some very important tools against the evil which exists in the world and timidity in the hearts of man. These tools – weapons of spiritual protection and defense – are the Rosary, the Chaplet of Divine Mercy, as well as various novenas to our favorite saints and archangels.
Of course, the greatest weapon of defense is the Most Holy Eucharist – the actual Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of the Risen Christ – received worthily in the state of sanctifying grace. For, as the Catechism of the Catholic Church in §1324 teaches us, “The Eucharist is ‘the source and summit of the Christian life.’”
And in the Dogmatic Constitution of the Church, Lumen Gentium, solemnly promulgated by Pope St. Paul VI on November 21, 1964, we read:
“Taking part in the Eucharistic sacrifice, which is the fount and apex of the whole Christian life, they offer the Divine Victim to God, and offer themselves along with It. Thus both by reason of the offering and through Holy Communion all take part in this liturgical service, not indeed, all in the same way but each in that way which is proper to himself. Strengthened in Holy Communion by the Body of Christ, they then manifest in a concrete way that unity of the people of God which is suitably signified and wondrously brought about by this Most August Sacrament” (Chapter II, 11).
If perchance your particular parish is closed to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, there is no sin incurred if you are physically unable to attend another Catholic parish. However, there may be another possibility that a parish in the Catholic Church may be open under a different Rite.
Now, I would like to take you back to Catholic or Sunday School, if you will. The Catholic Church is comprised of 23 different Rites or Churches, all under the direction of Rome and the Vicar of Christ, the pope, in which the Roman or Latin Rite is recognized as being the largest.
Others less common are Armenian, Ethiopian, Maronite, Malabar, Syrian, Byzantine, Melkite, Romanian, Ukrainian, Ruthenian, Chaldean, Coptic, and Ambrosian, to name a few. If another Catholic parish under a recognized Rite is available, you may attend and receive the Eucharistic Sacrament there. But I would first advise that you check with your pastor or your local diocese to see if that particular Rite or Eparchy is recognized.
The Church has always advised the faithful that sickness is a valid reason not to attend Mass or other church gatherings where large groups assemble. At Mass, no member of the faithful is obliged: (1) to shake hands at the sign of peace; (2) to receive the Precious Blood of Christ from the chalice; (3) to receive the Body of Christ on the tongue unless that is his/her preference (and for me personally, it is always my preference to receive on the tongue out of holy respect for the Real Presence of Christ).
With concern over the Coronavirus, the faithful are encouraged to take all the same precautions they would follow regarding the flu. Use normal good judgment. If you are sick or have flu-like symptoms, stay home. The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is broadcast on several television channels, such as EWTN (Eternal Word Television Network), and the sick can make a “spiritual communion” until they return to good health.
Please know that I keep each of you and your loved ones in my prayers each day. And may you find peace, in both health and sickness, knowing that God truly loves you with an Eternal Love beyond all comprehension!
And if you are unable to attend Sunday Mass, and as long as God blesses me with reasonably good health, I will continue to post daily from Sunday through Thursday, so that you will have access to the daily Scripture Readings and a meditative reflection on the Scriptures.
“The LORD bless you and keep you! The LORD let his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you! The LORD look upon you kindly and give you peace!”
Peace, love and God’s blessings always, †