So since my impassioned letter to the Sydney Archbishop, the Australian Government enforced a shutdown of all ‘nonessential’ businesses and institutions… including churches and religious gatherings.
This came as quite a blow at first, and I was lucky enough to attend the last Mass my parish was able to offer yesterday morning before the ban came into effect at noon. In truth, when I read about the shutdown the night before I cried my eyes out.
As a Catholic, the idea of missing out on the sacraments regularly, especially the Eucharist, let alone the Easter Triduum services is nothing short of devastating. I look forward to the Easter Vigil Mass in the Old Rite on Holy Saturday every year. It’s easily the highlight of the liturgical calendar and, despite the fact that it can sometimes stretch towards the four- or even five-hour mark, it never feels long to me. I love every moment of it.
I cried again after receiving the Eucharist yesterday, not knowing how long it would be before I’d be able to receive again.
For those interested, I plan to maintain my spiritual life sans Mass and the sacraments by making a daily spiritual Communion and either watching a live-streamed Mass on Sundays and Feast Days (if I can find a TLM that’s being live-streamed in this country) or simply reading through the Mass and the readings of the day. Apart from daily rosary, meditation/mental prayer and, if possible, adoration.
However, my perspective on the mass ban on religious and other services has changed since my last post. This came in part from hearing the opinions of a doctor I know well and trust, and in part from listening to Rules for Retrogrades’ most recent podcast with Steve Skojec.
Hearing how seriously these people are taking the threat, and their perspectives on how Christians should be responding, I now believe that this kind of shutdown was probably necessary. But further, that the Coronavirus and the quarantining, the self-isolation and everything that goes with it, might actually be a net good for society at large.
I’m not, of course, referring to all the deaths that have and will continue to occur, particularly in Italy. The virus is leaving a deadly wake that will only become more devastating as the days and weeks pass. However, I remain optimistic that things will have significantly calmed down in six months’ time.
I’m more referring to how this could change people’s perspectives on taking the sacraments for granted, the value of our Christian faith, the importance of quality time spent with one’s family, even the blow this will have to the globalist agenda.
Though not a member of the SSPX myself, I came across this letter from the Superior General to the faithful. It’s beautiful and contains what I believe to be exactly the right message for faithful Christians to consider:
Letter from Fr. Davide Pagliarani, Superior General of the Priestly Society of Saint Pius X, addressed to all the faithful confined to their homes and who no longer have access to the Holy Eucharist, due to the coronavirus epidemic.
In this moment of trial, which is certainly difficult for all of you, I would like to take this opportunity to send you a few reflections.
We do not know how long the current situation will last, nor, mostly importantly, how things will develop over the coming weeks. Faced with this uncertainty, the most natural temptation is to desperately search for guarantees and explanations in the discourse and hypotheses of the most learned “experts.” Often, however, these hypotheses—which abound on all sides—contradict each other and increase confusion instead of bringing people relief. Without a doubt, uncertainty is an integral part of this struggle. It is up to us to know how to take advantage of it.
If Providence permits a calamity or an evil to happen, it always achieves its goal of bringing about a greater good which, directly or indirectly, always concerns our souls. Without this essential premise, we risk despair, because an epidemic, another calamity, or any other struggle will always find us insufficiently prepared.
At this stage, what does God want us to understand? What does He expect from us during this very unique Lent, where it seems like He has already decided which sacrifices we must make?
A simple microbe is capable of bringing humanity to its knees. In the era of great technological and scientific advancements, it is above all human pride that is brought to its knees. Modern man, so proud of his achievements, who installs fiber-optic cables at the bottom of the ocean, builds aircraft carriers, nuclear power plants, skyscrapers, and computers, and who, after setting foot on the moon continues his conquest to Mars, this man is powerless before an invisible microbe. The uproar of the media these past days and our own fear should not cause us to miss this deep and easy-to-understand lesson. It is a lesson for pure and simple hearts who are able to confront the present times with faith. Providence still teaches us through events even in our days. Humanity—and each one of us—has this historic occasion to return to reality, to what is real and not to a virtual reality made up of dreams, myths, and illusions.
Translated into biblical terms, this message corresponds to the words of Jesus who asks us to remain united as closely as possible to Him, because without Him, we can do nothing nor solve any problem (cf. Jn. 15: 5). In these uncertain times, the expectation of a solution and the feeling of our helplessness and our fragility must encourage us to seek Our Lord, to implore Him, to ask His forgiveness, to pray to Him with more fervor, and, above all, to abandon ourselves to His Providence.
To this is added the difficulty or even the impossibility of freely assisting at Holy Mass, which augments the harshness of this ordeal. But there remains in our hands a privileged means and a weapon more powerful than the anxiety, uncertainty, or the panic that the coronavirus crisis can cause: we are speaking of the Holy Rosary, which links us to the Most Holy Virgin and to Heaven.
The moment has come to pray the rosary in our homes more systematically and with more fervor than usual. Let us not waste our time in front of screens and do not let ourselves be won over by media hype. If we must be quarantined, let us take advantage of this to transform our “house arrest” into a kind of joyful family retreat, during which prayer regains the place, the time, and the importance it deserves. Let us read the entire gospel, meditate upon it calmly, listen to it in peace: the words of the Master are the most effective, because they easily reach the intelligence and the heart.
Now is not the time to let the world come into our home, now that the circumstances and measures of the authorities separate us from the world! Let us take advantage of this situation. Let us give priority to spiritual goods that no microbe can attack: let us accumulate heavenly treasures, where neither the worm nor rust destroy. Because there where our treasure is, there too will be our heart (cf. Mt. 6:20-21).
Let us profit from this occasion to change our lives, knowing we must abandon ourselves to divine Providence. And let us not forget to pray for those who are suffering at this time. We must include in our intentions to Our Lord all those for whom the day of judgment approaches, and ask Him to have mercy on so many of our contemporaries who remain incapable of drawing profitable lessons for their souls from the current events. Pray that, once the ordeal has been overcome, they will not resume their lives as before, without changing anything. Epidemics have always served to bring lukewarm to religious practice, to the thought of God, to the hatred of sin. We have the duty to ask for this grace for each of our fellow citizens, without exception, including—and above all—for pastors who lack a spirit of faith and can no longer discern the will of God.
Let us not be discouraged: God will never abandon us. Let us meditate full of confidence on the words that our Holy Mother the Church puts on the lips of the priest during the time of an epidemic: “O God who does not want death but the conversion of sinners, turn with benevolence to Thy people who come back to Thee and, since they are devoted to Thee, deliver them with mercy from the scourges of Thine anger.”
I pray for all of you at the altar and place you under the paternal protection of St. Joseph. God bless you!
Fr. Davide Pagliarani +
Stay safe, take care and keep on praying, friends!