Monday, March 23, 2020



Dear parishioners,

As this damnable coronavirus spreads and more concern is being voice from the top down by international, national, state and local leaders, both religious and secular leaders, what we are doing or not doing at Saint Anne's continues to evolve.

We had a bit of a dust up with the Savannah Latin Mass Community's use of our Chapel for the Traditional Latin Mass on Sunday at 1 pm. It was meant for live stream only and for only the small choir, altar servers and videographers I had invited and me of course. Unfortunately some of the choir members brought friends, someone unlocked the chapel and others entered just as we began the live stream and I entered the chapel for Mass.

Some in attendance thinking it was private for those invited by me, were angry that others got in and understandably so.  Some Catholics have become belligerent about their perceived right to public Masses as though the pope, the bishop or the priest in some cases could not dispense from the obligation to attend a public Mass. This is a mortal sin against charity towards others who are fearful of contagion. It complicates the mortal sin in severity by possibly expanding the current public heath pandemic we have. Let me repeat, it is a mortal sin.

Thus, I am using my Canon Law authority as your canonical pastor to use my authority to lock the chapel or main church when we are live streaming the Mass. As long as I am well and able, I will celebrate either a private Mass alone or with those I ask to join me and at my discretion and certainly if they feel comfortable doing so.

For the time being, the chapel will be open after the Mass and during office hours for private prayer leaving it to the charity and common sense of those who enter to maintain social distancing.

Finally, I am closing the parish office to the public. For the time being, it is only for those who work in the office, to include the priests, to be present. If any employee is fearful of coming to work, we will allow for some other solution.

I know that this will agitate and anger some in the parish. I ask you to take that agitation and anger to prayer and cooperate with our pope, bishop, me and public authority during this time of pandemic. We don't want to exacerbate it, or be held accountable before the throne of God at our personal judgement for mortal sins against the 4th Commandment and charity! God bless you.

Your pastor,
Father Allan McDonald


Anonymous said...

Very well-said, Father! Praying for you and your parish.

rcg said...

We have experienced a similar meltdown among the hyper-trads in Ohio. Some are, frankly being selfish to the point of willful disregard for the health and safety of others. There is a certain’know-it-all’ deamon that enters the door ajar of the informed so that they confuse knowledge with wisdom. They are overwhelmed and impressed by the volume of their own knowledge such that they believe that the reason they cannot see the limits of their own understanding is because it doesn’t exist rather than because they are blinded by the relative proximity of a small amount of it.

Bob said...

I should think if folk are locked out of Mass, then that should mean EVERYbody not required for that celebration in proper liturgical form and its broadcast to others This would include choir members, camera operators and celebrants pals. Period. Not doing this IS unfair to all others concerned.

ByzRC said...

Agree with rcg.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Bob, the pastor has a right, in unusual situations, to invite whoever he feels is necessary to assist with the proper celebrtion of a live stream Mass. That other might have hurt feelings in such a situation says more about immaturity in difficult times than otherwise. The pastor has the obligation as well as the right to do what he thinks is best and surround himself with those who will assist him in his ministry. We are in a historical modern precedent. I am involving the minimum now and those that I know are willing and I can trust. This is no time for spreading ministries amongst any and all who would like to assist for the sake of assisting or to avoid hurting feelings.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

Sorry you got shelled, Fr. McD. For those who attend Mass regularly each Sunday, not being able to go is a big deal. For those of us who have hung on and continued to practice the Faith, going to Mass reinforces our commitment to God in a world that scorns such things. To be deprived of that is very painful. I think the pain only increases when some seemingly favored few, teacher's pets so to speak, gain access to the sacrament, while the rest of those desiring it are deprived. I know you understand this.

For me, the increased suffering of thinking I was left out while others were admitted would cause me to realize perhaps I am farther from God than I think I am, and that I was not permitted admission because I am displeasing to Him, and that I need to do much more conversion of my heart to be acceptable to Him, because I do not want that sort of thing to happen when I go for my judgement.

I think if I were one left out I would have more repentance, more sorrow for my sins, feeling I was rejected by God for not wearing a proper wedding garment. So I would work all the harder.

I hope your parishioners who were offended would use this experience as something that exposes their hidden pride (their sense of entitlement), and eagerly embrace the grace to learn and grow in Faith. We are blessed when God teaches us a lesson and exposes our true selves to us. He's like our dads and moms who point out our faults, not to embarrass or punish us, but to correct us so we become more like Him.

God bless you Fr. McD. Who ever said it was easy being a leader?

God bless.

Bob said...

As I said, if indispensible for the Mass celebration, they SHOULD/MUST be there.

To invite any, ANY others when everyone else is locked out is a major problem, and is pure favoritism/connections at work. Those folk accompanying the choir members should never have been admitted, and admitting them ignited all which followed as a match to gasoline left open.

This is all quite apart from disregard of recommended social distancing and out of town folk possibly bringing the virus to a chapel which might otherwise stay safe, but I have no idea what sanitizing efforts are being made there after visitors. Here, it is only weekly cleaning, despite volunteering to do otherwise, but, as few people as ever come here to pray, aside from the door handle, there is very little risk.

rcg said...

Bob, consider this: If the seating limit was set by the fire-marshal and the Savannah Latin Mass Community had requested the Mass then they should have right of place in the two meter pews until capacity is reached. In this case the Governor and Archbishop have set the limit for other, equally valid reasons. But the people who asked for the Mass deserve the seats. Continuing that thought they could ask Fr McDonald if he could have a Mass for them.

Anonymous said...

Bee here:

This was posted on our parish Facebook page on March 21, 2020:

"All churches and adoration chapels must be closed and locked until the order is lifted by the governor. Private prayer in any parish building must be discontinued until the order is lifted."

Prior to this our parish church was open for private prayer. I was lucky enough to visit the church last Friday for prayer. Now, even that is cut off.

This is so hard.

God bless.

Anonymous said...


This is a different issue than the seating capacity set by the fire marshal.
Precautions must be taken and recommendations followed to limit exposure to a deadly virus.
On a related note:
I like participating in the Latin mass as well, but sometimes I wonder how many
who comment on this blog and who prefer the LM would attend and worship at a Novus Ordo if that were the only form available. I know I would.

Anonymous said...

I'm a bit confused Father. If we disagree vocally that Masses should not be stopped then we are guilty of MORTAL SIN?

If we even question, are we guilty of MORTAL SIN?

Yesterday, Chris Ferrara at Fatima Perspectives complained that it seems ludicrous that fast food drive throughs remain open but Catholic churches deny us the Mass. Is HE guilty of mortal sin for making that observation?

I also don't think it's quite fair to assume that Catholics disappointed at the unavailability of the Mass in any way question the authority of bishops to dispense us from our obligations--that isn't even an issue here.

We've hardly even HEARD the term "mortal sin" from the pulpit for the last several decades. I'm not sure why it has to be used like a weapon here. Could you explain?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

A@1 am, The issue isn't disagreeing with something, the issue is obeying legitimate authority in a difficult, unpredented time. The isssue is vitriol. The issue is maligning those in authority. The issue is attacking those in authoirty who have legitmate authority and are acting in good faith. You can disagree that the new Ford Mustang is not like the model year 1964/65 but you don't have to malign, name call, and try to tear down the ones who created the new Mustang.

You seem to forgot that Mass is offered daily and the people of God are being prayed for during the Mass whether you can receive or not, be present or not. What has been lifted, is the obligation because of a threat of pandemic and for unusual times.

There are many parts of the word that do not see a priest for months at a time. Are you in favor of ordaining married men and women to provide that? There are a bunch of people who are really angry at this pope because he hasn't come through for them on this. They disagree with him and some call him names and others leave for evnagelcial Protestantism or paganism. Is this what you are suggesting is okay when people disagree?

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Bob, I deleted you latest comment. We need men to man up and stop whining.

Anonymous said...

To All My Cradle Catholics,

As a convert, I was deprived of Mass for most of my life. It is terrible. However, we are not owed anything. Further, in times like this, we need to support leadership not nit-pick it. Fortunately, for most of human history, people had no ready access to publicly complain like on the internet. Now, we are a click away from sounding off.

Unite your suffering with Christ’s! Christ loves to see your heart longing for Him in the sacraments, especially His Eucharist. Join the thousands of converts all over the world who go to Mass (we went for over 3 years) but cannot receive. Use that suffering for the salvation of souls and the healing of bodies right now plagued by this.


Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Using the accusation of mortal sin as a cudgel to punish someone who complains is wrong.

Complaining about a pastor's choices is not grave matter. Would it be grave matter to complain, "Father, you should not have used that quote from Cyril of Alexandria to support your assertion regarding whether it is right or wrong to persecute the Jews."

I suspect that levelling this accusation is an example of panic induced hyperbole. In any case, accusing someone, even without naming them, of committing mortal sin when it is highly, highly unlikely that any such sin exists is inappropriate.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

If a priest can't admonish the sinner, a corporal work of mercy, then Mike, we are in big trouble. And if priests can't use the language of the Church, such as actual sin, either venial or mortal, then we have become worldly.

Of course complaining isn't grave matter. Vitriol and outright disobedience is grave matter if it is related to the 4th Commandment, which in the CCC's teaching on it, is very thorough, more thorough than most know.

And of course, the priest offers general guidelines to all but it is up to the sinner to determine if his actions qualify as a mortal sin: grave/serious matter, they know it is so and they commit the act with full consent of the will and usually with forethought and planning. Mortal sin is never a spontaneous, unthinking action, that would be a venial sin, no matter how grave or serious the act was/is.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

I might add, though, that we fail to mention often what is venial sin. Complaining, using the Cyril of Alexandria example, is a good one, because it all depends on how it is communicated, open dialogue, or you idiot, you should not have used... or to make fun of someone...

We are all sinners and to fail to acknowledge this to our people is malpractice.

ByzRC said...

"Not doing this IS unfair to all others concerned"

Life isn't fair. The Church isn't a democracy.

Alternative approach to consider: Thanking Fr. McDonald for both offering and providing, offer a spiritual communion from your home and pray for some end to this crisis.

Fr. Michael J. Kavanaugh said...

Priests can admonish the sinner - I said nothing about that.

When the priest, in this case you, chooses to accuse someone of a mortal sin when plainly no mortal sin is present, and when he does so because he's irritated and annoyed with behavior he encouraged, then that priest should be called out.

One man's "Vitriol" is another man's "Being Forthright."

You've made an accusation that doesn't stand the test, Allan. As the old saying goes, "You made your bed, now lie in it."

In all of this you are right that you can and should tightly control the gathering of people in your parish. From my perspective, though, it looks like you stumbled badly in the execution and that fumbling resulted in a backlash.

Fr. Allan J. McDonald said...

Physician heal thy self in terms of accusations and talk about the pot calling the kettle black. But of course you can justify yourself by using worldly or secular categories. A reliance that is more dogmatic and judgmental than anything I wrote using my Catholic Faith’s politically incorrect categories. Way to go!

rcg said...

It this specific situation the issue is that the churches are closed to prevent the spread of a deadly disease that is spread by casual contact within as much as 2 meters. The refusal to agree on that point does not make the bishops apostate. The refusal to respect the caution, *even if the Bishops are wrong* does show a disregard for the value of human life. I am also coming to the opinion that this obsession with the act of confession and the act of communion misses the Truth of contrition and the Communion of Saints and risks becoming idolatrous.

Marc said...

Last Sunday, our (SSPX) chapel added 4 additional masses, limited the number present to 80, and required signing up in advance. Also, the elderly were dispensed by the District Superior and children under communion age were not to come to mass.

Now that we have a shelter in place order in our city, we have no Sunday masses this week. But Wednesday through Saturday, confession is available in the Church. People must sign up for a time, though, in order to be sure no more than 10 people come at a time.

Also, distribution of Communion is available every quarter hour during the Confession times so that the sacraments are available.

Seems like a good balance to me.