It is with a heavy heart that I write to you to inform you that the Society of Saint Pius X, like many public institutions and Catholic dioceses, has to take drastic measures in response to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Unfortunately, these measures are not only material; they affect our spiritual lives, the public practice of our faith, the praise we want to give to our God and Master.
We know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints. (Rm. 8: 28)
Few of us have experienced a situation like this in our lives. Suddenly everything has changed! In the blink of an eye, what we took for granted is now very special. Some feel threatened and insecure by a small virus that has overturned public life around the globe.
We know that God rules all things with His almighty power! With our words, we've always confessed this truth. Now, however, facing an inescapable threat, this truth is imposed on us and it challenges us to learn it in reality: He, God, is the Master! We depend on Him. He alone knows how the crisis will develop. We will find out how it will affect us in time.
Even though we take all necessary precautions, for now, plenty is and will always be out of our control. We are in God’s hands! Feeling insecure and aware of our powerlessness, how will we respond? Some, completely overwhelmed by fear, turn towards themselves: they empty the shelves of the stores, thinking of no one else. It is striking how egoism and selfishness blossom in such circumstances and how we can become imprisoned by a merely natural approach. While some panic, others remain unconcerned. Many refuse to acknowledge the fact of their human frailty. They do not want to face the Lenten advice: "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return..."
As Catholics, we can take this threat as a real spiritual challenge. Let us learn to humble ourselves. We should turn toward God more fervently, giving ourselves in His hands. Let recognize God is in charge of this trial and ordeal, confiding in Him with total faith. Even though He can enter our lives with a glove of iron, we know it His loving hand that touches us.
Therefore, the first measures we must take are of a spiritual nature. In these times, not only do we want to take the precautions to prevent the spread of disease, but we must redouble our prayers and penance, begging for God’s mercy. We will offer a Continuous Mass. This Mass will be the Mass of the day of Lent and the intention is “for protection and deliverance”. We will assign each priest of the District a day where he will say his Mass for this intention and will let you know which priest will say the Mass and where. Please unite yourselves with him and his intention! We will keep this continuous offering of Masses going as long as necessary. I begin this Sunday saying the Mass in Colton; Fr. Steven McDonald will offer Monday’s Mass at the District House.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the priests will add the following prayers from the Votive Mass for the Deliverance from Death in Time of Pestilence to the Mass:
O God, who willest not the death of the sinner but that he should repent: welcome with pardon Thy people’s return to Thee: and so long as they are faithful in Thy service, do Thou in Thy clemency withdraw the scourge of Thy wrath. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son…
Let the sacrifice which we now offer succor us, O Lord; may it wholly release us from sin and deliver us from all ruin and destruction. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son...
Graciously hear us, O God our Savior: deliver Thy people from the terrors of Thy wrath, and assure them of that safety which is the gift of Thy mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son...
The District will also provide a special prayer for every week to add to our daily Rosary or recite during the day. On this 3rd Sunday of Lent, we will start with the Universal Prayer attributed to Pope Clement XI asking for all the virtues necessary for our salvation. It is included below, as well as in a downloadable PDF that you can print and add to your missal or prayer cards.
The practical directives for the U.S. District in response to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) are as follows:
Anyone who feels even slightly ill must not attend Mass (Sundays or weekdays). Attending Mass when someone is ill, is uncharitable to one’s fellow parishioners. This applies particularly to children, who often are not careful about hygiene. We do not wish to instill fear in the people; however, children can unintentionally spread illness to the elderly, for whom it would be more grave.
Fr. Wegner personally dispenses all the sick and elderly from the Sunday obligation until further notice. For those who are unable to attend Mass, a Mass with sermon will be broadcasted online every Sunday. You will find the link to the broadcast on sspx.org.
Holy water fonts are to be emptied. An adequate supply of holy water will nevertheless be ensured so that the laity may fill their own bottles for use at home and on entering the church. New bottles will be supplied for this purpose where possible.
All food handling (e.g. coffee/donut time after the Masses, potlucks, St. Joseph’s Tables) is canceled until further notice.
If there are government rulings regarding canceling or reducing the size of gatherings, we will follow the lawful government orders.
All unnecessary public gatherings will be canceled. Your local priest or coordinator will be in contact regarding specific events at your chapel or school.
In parishes where the Masses tend to be very full, priests if possible will add additional Masses to reduce the number of faithful at any given Mass.
A new federal ruling (as of Friday, March 13th) prohibits all visits to nursing homes outside the danger of death, until further notice. This also applies to regular sick calls.
Priests and laity should also be careful not to shake hands.
Laity who are feeling ill should not request appointments with priests outside of an emergency.