Thursday, March 19, 2020


Here are two approaches in the Coronavirus age:

With an unprecedented Holy Week coming into focus, US church’s 3rd largest diocese – 2.3 million-member ArchChicago – releases its protocols; Card Cupich & auxiliaries to livestream rites from empty Cathedral; among other stipulations, no distributions of palm may be held:

From Cardinal Nichols of England:

In terms of the major question of these days – namely, how to keep being Church amid a pandemic and all its uncertain anxiety – Card Nichols had some useful pointers for priests/parishes yesterday in addressing the clergy of England and Wales:
Like most progressives, Cardinal Cupich is very dogmatic and authoritarian in his decree and seems to lack in pastoral sensitivities. I know, I know, he wants to be like a doctor of the body rather than one of the soul. But his approach is rigid and will keep the Church in Chicago sterile.

Cardinal Nichols on the other hand has a schizophrenic approach. Keep the Church open, priests be visible, keep social distancing. But he says don’t celebrate the Mass, but be there in visible prayer, expose the Blessed Sacrament. That’s all very good, but why in the name of God and all that is holy, can’t the priest say Mass and simply not give Holy Communion, but rather as an extension of the Mass after the Prayer after Holy Communion offer Benediction. The Church is open after all. It makes no sense to me.

What to do; what to do; O what is a priest to do????????????????????????


Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Well, you can't say Mass because the people will come, and then someone infected might be among the worshipers, and a cough or a sneeze or even a hand on the pew, or on the handle of the door to come in, may spread the virus.

A commenter on another blog observed, "We are in a state of purgatory. I want Jesus but we cannot have Him."

Wonderful observation for reflection.

God bless.

Anonymous said...

For now, Father, keep doing exactly what you’re doing! Let God be the judge...

Fr Joseph Mack said...

We're handling it this way here (for the time being as we've not been forbidden to have people at Mass at all). Still waiting to hear guidance on how to handle Holy Week.


Due to updated restrictions from the CDC and the latest directive from our Bishop, we have had to make changes to our Mass attendance policy. We are restricted to 10 people gathering (including Father and the Deacon) at each Mass. After careful consideration, Father has issued a new policy about Mass reservations. He is asking everyone to limit themselves to 1 Mass a week, to allow all St. Paul parishioners a chance to attend Mass.

Also, we are now only signing up the day before for the weekday Masses from 8 am to noon. For Saturday, Sunday and Monday Mass we will sign-up on the Friday before from 8 to noon. Please wait to attend until your reservation is confirmed by phone or email. If you would like to reserve a spot, you would need to contact us at xxx-xxx-xxxx or by email at xxxxx@xxxxxxx. Once we have reached the total of 10 (including Father and the Deacon) for that Mass, we will close reservations for that Mass. We will have a staff member at the door to let the people who have reserved a spot in.

Along with that, with the help of our local Knights Council, we're setting up a "drive-thru service" for parishioners to pick up blessed palms on Palm Sunday

Bob said...

Again, I have offered to wipe down pews, guard against vandalism (against which this local church always locked except official group participation) so that folk can pray....and though offered in person and in an email, have yet to even receive the courtesy of a reply.

This disease is mainly contact spread, with some droplet/aerosol risk IF cough/sneeze uncontained....those both are so easily dealt with by wiping/spacing/muffling as to be unbelievable that everything is just shut down, rather than simply doing the obvious.

Folk find it far easier to just lock doors rather than actually THINK. Whether a church simply open for prayer, or parishoners allowed in (with appropriate spacing) to participate physically at the Mass, even if Communion not distributed, simply beggars belief. WE have a right to take risks if we want, and even those rights denied in a manner which suggests more a liability lawyer response than that of any manner of spiritual guides/shepherds.

There must be great shame in Heaven right now, considering all the Christians who died attempting to attend a church in far deadlier times. I certainly am ashamed of our leaders utter inability to come to grips with something which could last from months to well over a year.

Bob said...

In reply to Bee....Bee, folk will have this disease, and others, for all is our job to figure out a way to continue as normal a life as possible in all threats.

CERTAINLY, if a Mass is held, especially now, a near certainty someone infected will attend. A cough or sneeze can be contained. Doors can be handled by one person. Common contact points such as hymnals/missals removed. Pews can be disinfected/wiped before and/or after Mass. Proper spacing can be maintained. You could even require all entrants to wear playtex gloves and check temperatures before entry, whatever it takes.....

again, this could last months or over a year....neither our churches nor country can have everyone hide in their houses for this entire time. We need to DEAL with it rather than hide.
God bless you as well in these trying times

Bob said...

Father Mack, I urge you to cancel palm distribution unless you can guarantee that whoever has handled them or been in their vicinity for several weeks or will distribute them, is not a sleeper/carrier showing no symptoms.....or they be fully dipped, with no missed spots, in a bleach water bucket just prior to each person receiving them, and palm fronds are gonna be tough to thoroughly disinfect, although greatest likelihood any contamination would be external-only. Ask if the risk is worth it.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Today I received an email from the Archdiocese of Chicago. In the first two paragraphs Cardinal Cupich says to please pray for all those affected by COVID-19 and all first responders on the front lines of the epidemic, and that "liturgies" are available to view on the Archdiocesan web site.

In paragraph three we get to the meat of the email: "It is critically important that our parishes and pastors receive the offertory support they need to remain operational and sustainable despite the suspension of weekly Masses. The Archdiocese has developed a universal online offertory page where the faithful can make an offertory donation to any parish in the Archdiocese."

There was no sensitive heartfelt email earlier regarding closing of churches. That we had to get from T.V. or from our parish web sites. (My heart goes out to people who had not heard about the suspension and arrived at church last Sunday for Mass, and saw a note on the door. That must have been devastating.)

Fr. McD noted the hardness in tone of Cardinal Cupich's directives to priests regarding various services normally held during Lent and Holy Week. The email I received is a little less harsh, but still conveys a formal business attitude.

Contrast that to this incredibly pastoral message from Bishop Athanasius Schneider:

"In spite of the painful situation of being deprived of Holy Mass and Holy Communion, Catholics should not yield to frustration or melancholy. They should accept this trial as an occasion of abundant graces, which Divine Providence has prepared for them. Many Catholics have now in some way the chance to experience the situation of the catacombs, of the underground Church. One can hope that such a situation will produce the new spiritual fruits of confessors of faith and of holiness."

(for Bishop Schneider's full message, see

Who can blame us for flocking to those bishops who write words that comfort and reassure us, that guide us as to the Catholic response to such events, that encourage us to reflect on the heroic deeds of Catholics who suffered such things in the past, instead of those that tell us how to deposit money now that the basket cannot be passed as usual.

We suffer in many ways in this new Church.

God bless.

Virginia SoCon said...


I, too, received that email from Cardinal Cupich, and I probably gave into a venial sin in my reaction to the request for funds. There is little to nothing communicated about the care of the souls of the faithful in that message.

I was blessed enough to be able to go to Confession this past week. I mentioned to my wife that we should view sin that separates us from God as horrifically as we do this expulsion from the graces of the Sacraments. What a joyous Eastertime it will be whenever we're able to reunite as one Church.

While saying this, I do understand that Churches still have bills and salaries that must be paid, and for that I am not unsympathetic. However, what Cardinal Cupich (and many bishops and priests, for that matter) fails to understand is that the financial needs of the Church will be met by the providence of God when the shepherds spend their time focusing on the needs of the sheep. You treat me as a customer, and I won't "pay" when I'm not receiving the "goods" or "services" that you're selling me. You treat my family and me as a member of Christ's Body, and yes, I'll make sure that our offering still makes it to the parish coffers.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Both Bee and Virginia, I was in the middle of a capital campaign to raise $1.3 million for our debt reduction which stands at $5 million. In fact I was to announce to the parish this weekend at all the Mass how much we have pledged in the preliminary phase. On Tuesday we put that campaign on hiatus.

For the four years I have been here I have fretted about our financial situation which included a $48,000 a month loan payment to SunTrust. I had a campaign three years ago and raised just shy of $900,000. Most people have honored their pledges. Our payment was reconfigured and only $32,000 a month. We're not a rich parish by any means.

Once I put the campaign on hiatus and the bishop canceled public Masses, I have had a great sense of peace from God that this is beyond my control, what ever happens, happens and somehow it will all come out for the best. I hope that grace supply continues.

I've never pastored a parish where we had to default on a loan to the diocese who is ultimately responsible.

Православный физик said...

I'm going to link what my bishop has directed: It seems to me the right balance of being precautious, and allowing services to continue. Could not the west do something similar...It seems to me a bit much that society must stop all because of something that's out of our control...Or to protect others. With that kind of logic, we might as well never leave the house again because of unknown viruses and diseases...We should not fear, God is with us.

Anonymous said...

"However, what Cardinal Cupich (and many bishops and priests, for that matter) fails to understand is that the financial needs of the Church will be met by the providence of God..."

The "providence of God" will not come in the form of wire transfers from heaven to the bank account of your parish.

The providence of God is YOU making your regular contribution to your parish, and maybe adding a bit to cover for those who are currently without income.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Forgive me if this seems an obvious point but:

The likely shortfalls in funds for parishes means jobs. There are fixed costs and variable costs. Unfortunately, the savings on unused candles, wine, hosts, on less electricity or heat, will be pretty small. Maintenance costs largely remain unchanged. When it gets warmer, the grass will need to be cut, and folks will want it cut.

The big cost is personnel. For most folks, most of those employed by a parish (apart from a parish with a school) are invisible; they don't know who those employees are, or what they do. If you don't have kids, you don't really know much about activities aimed at them. If you aren't a senior citizen, those things are invisible too.

But big cost equals big share of responsibility. Most of what makes my parish a great parish (if it is; lots of people say it is) comes from what our staff does. The wheels would fall off without them.

In my parish, I am always trying to keep this information out there -- what we're doing and who is doing it -- precisely to help answer the question, what do my contributions pay for, and why does the parish want a little more this year?

I haven't really said anything about this to my parishioners yet. But at some point, maybe soon, I'm going to need to highlight this, because losing our valuable staff will a be long-term blow.