Good morning, it’s Saturday just in case you are a bit like me and every day seems the same!
The last few days I’ve been praying and pondering about the current closure of churches and all other non-essential places of public gathering.
Cardinal Burke whom I don’t usually follow made some thought provoking comments:
“But prayer, devotions and worship, above all, Confession and the Holy Mass, are essential for us to remain healthy and strong spiritually, and for us to seek God’s help in a time of great danger for all. Therefore, we cannot simply accept the determinations of secular governments, which would treat the worship of God in the same manner as going to a restaurant or to an athletic contest,”
Whatever about his person and his known bad relationship with the Pope, he does raise a valid point!
We are allowed outside for food shopping, medical reasons and exercise all of which are deemed to be necessities, what about prayer?!
Now yes we can pray from home but we can also exercise from home and so we must at least think about this current dynamic and wonder if it is the best solution.
I understand that to a non spiritual person prayer seems like a waste of time and things like mass and Eucharistic adoration must seem nothing short of ridiculous!
The secular and rational mind does not take into account the spiritual influences and interactions and so does not value prayer in any way as a way of fighting this current crisis!
This is clear when world leaders thank doctors and nurses and scientists for their work but omit to ever mention or thank people of prayer for theirs.
And so from a purely secular point of view closing the church is no different to closing the cinema. It will reduce gatherings, reduce contact and reduce the virus….
However is it also going to reduce prayer, reduce faith and further reduce the protective hand of God on us?
Once as I sat in a church in Toulon in the south of France I heard Jesus say ‘come’.
I walked up to the altar and once I got to the steps I heard “turn around and sit”.
As I sat there in the empty church I heard Him say:
“This is my day, waiting here for a visitor and so few people come. I am really here physically and spirituality even if hidden in the form of bread”.
A sadness hit me as I saw the busy marketplace outside and yet nobody coming in!
I felt the terrible pain of Jesus who wishes to bless us and heal us so much if we would only put Him in first place and follow His directions in life.
In Brazil I was reading last night about an evangelical church that has stayed open.
They still have church gatherings but everyone must wash their hands and sit apart much like what we do when we go food shopping.
They see prayer and praying in community as a necessity and as a risk worth taking.
As Catholics with the real presence of Jesus in our churches we are really forced to ask ourselves the question:
“What does God want? Is going to church a risk worth taking?”
If we liken the current crisis to a war then there will of course be casualties. Opening churches and encouraging people to pray may well curb the spread of the Coronavirus on a long-term spiritual level while leading to a short-term increase.
Jesus does not promise to keep our bodies free from ailments and toil as we serve him. A quick look at mother Teresa will confirm that!!
Now obviously we must use our reason too and not everyone is called to be like mother Teresa and so we must really pray that the light of the Holy Spirit will inspire our religious and political leaders in finding the right balance and strategies in dealing with the current crisis.
Personally I would like to see the church’s open while people obey social distancing.
I believe that it would not only be good for people’s mental and spiritual health but it would be pleasing to Jesus too.
It would be a reminder to the world that we have a Lord, a God, a King, a healer whom we believe in and call on and are even ready to risk our health for.
That is only my view and while I see things this way I accept and indeed obey the current decision of our church leaders to close the churches and appreciate that they are in a very delicate situation!
Anyway, in the meantime we must not get discouraged and we must continue to pray as we can with the help of online masses etc.
Let us in a very special way hold our priests, bishops and Pope in prayer thinking especially of those ones who give their hearts and lives to praying and making sacrifices for others and yet are overlooked by our politicians and world leaders who understand not their value.
Saint Jean Vianney, patron saint of parish priests pray for us and intercede for us during this period of pastoral emergency.
Grant our priests and bishops light from heaven to know God’s will and put it into action!
Have a wonderful day!