One More Thing to Offer Up … FaceMasks
And now masks. Everywhere. Never mind that on any given day the scientific community says masks are important in containing the coronavirus and the next week could suggest maybe not. Never mind everyone agrees social distancing prevents contagion, yet at widely televised funerals of important people, at riots, at Florida beaches, people are in close contact, masked or not. Masks in my state are now needed inside buildings open to the public. In St. Paul, the mayor said in public, period, including outdoors because the sidewalks and streets are public.
This applies to churches, although that fact was not publicized by television and print media and not on the archdiocesan website or newspaper until July 30, a week after the gubernatorial decree. The statement saying the masks pertain to churches came toward the end of the 13 pages of verbiage in the governor’s executive mask order and just before the list of fines for noncompliance and hefty fines for businesses that allow unmasked people within their walls. No rewards were listed for those who turned offenders in, however.
The local Archbishop jumped on the bandwagon and asked Catholics to comply.
Those who are unable to wear face coverings for medical reasons are probably already covered by the exceptions set forth in the executive order. Those who are simply unwilling to wear face coverings would have the option of participating in one of the outdoor Masses being celebrated throughout the archdiocese or else participating virtually.Statement of Archbishop Hebda in response to Gov. July 24 order on masks , see report at diocesan website The Catholic Spirit (7-30-20, last retrieved 8-5-20).
This comment, quoted in an article by Joe Ruff in the Catholic Spirit (7-30-20), gave me pause. Is the Archbishop really saying Don’t Mask, Don’t Come? Is he saying reception of Our Lord Jesus Christ sacramentally in the Holy Eucharist is now available only to the masked? It used to be only mortal sin kept a person away from receiving. Will there be people stationed outside churches – as at Menards and Wal-Mart – refusing entry to the unmasked?
This saddens me because Catholic churches seem exceptionally safe. The scrupulosity to be avoided in the confessional (remember those?) works well in sanitizing church spaces. People are escorted to pews rather than entering on their own or as part of a group; they sit pews apart; reception of Holy Communion is now after Mass, many times at the pew rather than in a line.
You Can go to Wal-Mart, but not to Mass
Masked or not, Wal-Mart is a damn sight more dangerous and unsanitary. Yet even our otherwise-locked-in-assisted-living-and-vulnerable residents are allowed to go shopping there – but not attend Holy Mass. One resident was sent to her room for 14 days of quarantine for going to Mass (an overzealous application of our Archbishop’s recommendation that elderly stay home from Mass). She hadn’t been so treated after a trip to the pharmacy.
One more thing to offer up, although not as bad as the huge cross to carry in California where the governor ordered churches closed. The devil must be dancing with glee, the one power that stands against him shuttered again! Sometimes governors seem to act as if all power on earth has been given to them. (cf. …why Pilate is in the Creed, Gird your loins for the answer.) And then I think of the perennial Gospel on the First Sunday of Lent and double down on praying that we be delivered from this evil by Divine Mercy.
St. Paul, in last Sunday’s Second Reading, seemed to be addressing this very issue:
What will separate us from the love of Christ? Will anguish, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or the sword? No, in all these things we conquer overwhelmingly through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 8:35, 37-39.
And I am reminded of another point of view:
In the year immediately after the Second Vatican Council, many people were unhappy over laymen becoming Extraordinary Ministers of the Holy Eucharist. Generations prior to Vatican II were taught not to touch the Sacred Species or even the sacred vessels. How could an unconsecrated person touch the Host? And then there arose the question of who would be worthy to do so. Several people could be seen at Masses crossing over to the priest’s Communion line to avoid the Extraordinary Minister. At our parish, the trustees and other committee heads were appointed. But my father, who worked with many of them on church projects, took particular issue with Mr. O. “What’s he doing touching the Host. He’s not worthy. I’m never going to have him give me Communion.”
As luck would have it, Mr. O was the Extraordinary Minister for our side of the church that Sunday. We crawled over my dad’s feet as we got in line. To my surprise, he hesitated and came out of the pew behind me.
“I thought you wouldn’t receive Communion from Mr. O, Dad,” I said. “I decided I wasn’t going to hell because of him” (Excerpt from “The Liturgy, Our Connection With the Divine,”Slaying the “Spirit” of Vatican II With the Light of Truth, Bellarmine Forum, 2017).
We just had our churches opened a few weeks ago. I remember thinking “How good it is to be here!” Do I turn my back on Christ now because of a stupid mask?
This article, One More Thing to Offer Up … FaceMasks is a post from The Bellarmine Forum.
Do not repost the entire article without written permission. Reasonable excerpts may be reposted so long as it is linked to this page.