by Alice Ann Grayson
Cardinal Raymond Burke commented on a troubling development relating to the Corona Virus and the closing of our churches, including the relativizing of the sacraments:
The cardinal said that he found the idea that being without the sacraments had helped some to develop their prayer lives “a bit disturbing.” He insisted rather this was a time to develop a greater respect and understanding of Our Lord’s presence in the sacraments of the Church.
“We do all of these devotions, we say these prayers with the profound longing to meet our Lord in the sacraments,” he explained.
“Something we've discovered in all of this is that we need to deepen very much our appreciation of our Lord's presence, His action with us in a very particular and extraordinary way through the sacraments.”
This thought of Cardinal Burke’s penetrates to the heart of Catholic Identity. We are not a virtual church. Our souls are incarnated in our bodies. We have an Incarnate God, who founded a visible, true, one, holy, and apostolic church complete with its incarnate, visible sacraments. Remember our catechism teaching that a sacrament is an outward sign, instituted by God, to give grace? Consider the quote below:
…They [ the sacraments] open for us the gates of heaven… the salvation of souls depend upon it… the mortal danger of cutting the sacraments off from the faithful… baptism is the foundation and first sacrament …Good points, all. Understandably and quite rationally, the Catholic faithful are alternately sorrowful, angry, outraged, and otherwise upset by being deprived of the sacraments of the Church. They are, after all, “the means Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and His Holy Catholic Church have provided us to combat the evils of this world” as well as those of our corrupt flesh and the demons who beset us with temptation. They are also among the principal means by which we attain to that union with God we call sanctification.” (1)
While live streaming has been a wonderful help for all of us during these difficult times, it has its limitations. It is a bit like a beggar, who has not had a good meal in a number of days, peering through a glass window of a gourmet restaurant, watching a feast. It cannot remain the status quo, and that reason is the the purpose of my writing.
In many dioceses, scheduled confessions are cancelled; churches remain locked; churches are not considered essential services. And yet, the health situation is real. We have as yet no cure; no vaccination is in site for several months.
But we cannot continue to wait. Below are excerpts this author has written to her bishop:
I am a Catholic in your diocese. I ask that you, in union with your fellow bishops in Massachusetts, on behalf of the Catholic Church, contact with passion, the government of MA, and urge them to list the opening in safe ways, according to the guidelines, the churches of MA. Churches are an essential service- far more important than hospitals and supermarkets. Indeed, the care of patients in hospitals cannot be adequate without spiritual care.
While the health situation is still at risk, there are things you can urge your priests to do:
1. Offer parking lot masses while live streaming. Administer Holy communion to those who attend in cars. It can be done safely- even if by cups of the sacred blood alone, or by masks and sanitizing
2. Encourage drive-by confession.
3. Never postpone baptizing an infant.
4. Encourage reservations to attend Holy Mass and allow the priests to offer more Masses.
5. Increase home visits with your lay ministers and deacons and nuns.. Use masks and pay visits in safe distance.
6. Do a driving Eucharistic Procession each Sunday through the streets of the towns. Post the route.
7. Encourage parishioners to make appointments with the priest for confession and Holy Communion.
8. As the weather improves, hold outdoor Masses in large spaces.
9. Tell your people what are your plans. We want to know.
The sacraments cannot be suspended any longer. They are necessary, and I, for one, am starved.
Christ is risen. Indeed, he is risen.
Praying that you will act on my suggestions,
I ask for you, many graces.
I submit this refection to encourage Catholics to write to their bishops and call their pastors, asking them to bring Christ and his saving grace to his people. It is not too much to ask that Christ’s sheep be fed.
1. We are an Easter People
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