More Than a Building

Our Lady of the Nativity Church in Louisiana, where I usually go to church.

I thought I’d blog about how the Covid19 virus, aka the Corona virus, has affected my life so far and address the people who are criticizing the bishops for cancelling Mass (hopefully, it will come back for Palm Sunday, but I doubt it).

The week before the Quarantine was enacted, our priest told us the Mass would only serve the Host, and only the priest would be allowed to drink the Precious Blood (since everyone drinks from the same chalice. He also told us not to shake hands during the Sign of Peace and/or hold hands during the Our Father. We were not permitted to receive the Host on the tongue, but it was insisted that we receive it in the hand. (Our priest reminded us that Vatican II permits this practice.) I usually take the Host by hand anyway, so that wasn’t different.

Now with the quarantine, churches are closed. Many priests and Bishops (including my favorite, Bishop Robert Barron) are now live-streaming Mass on YouTube or Facebook instead of at the actual church. My local library branch was doing curbside pickup, but they suspended that now, at least until April 4. (As far as I know. That may change. Probably not. I hope) You have to call ahead, and then they come out and give you the books or whatever you requested. People are panicking and selfishly hoarding toilet paper and other items.

Many people are criticizing the actions of the bishops, but I believe these arguments are wrong. I’ll go through each one.

1. “We should still receive the Host on the tongue.” As I stated, Vatican II says that is permitted . Do you want the person who is giving you the Eucharist to get sick by touching your tongue?

2. “The churches shouldn’t be closed. We need to show that we are braver than the virus.” There is bravery, and there is public safety. You might not even know you have the virus and then you might unknowingly pass it on to those who cannot protect themselves. Loving our neighbors included being mindful of their health as well as our own. And by the way, during outbreaks of the Bubonic Plague, churches were closed.

3. “The Host and Precious Blood will protect us because Jesus is present. We need to be fed.” Although Christ is indeed present in both, the properties (or “accidents”, to use a more canonical term) of both are still present. If you are celiac, you cannot eat bread, including the Host. In fact, some churches actually do serve gluten-free or low-gluten Hosts. If you drink enough of the Precious Blood, you will still get drunk. If someone poisons either one, the poison is not removed. It will still kill you. This argument reduces the Bread and Wine to magical items.

We are more fortunate than we realize. During the Middle Ages, Christianity wasn’t as widespread as it is today. People couldn’t go as often as we do. Today, we can make a spiritual communion by watching Mass. We don’t even have to be in church!

Our Catholic faith is more than the concrete and bricks in the churches. Jesus is present in the Host and the wine, but He is also present in our hearts. We should be taking this opportunity to unite ourselves in prayer. That can also show our solidarity as the family of God.

We are in the season of Lent. During this time, Jesus is calling us out to the desert. Let us meet him there. We can still connect with him spiritually. Our technology is much more advanced than it was in the days of plagues, and we might have a cure sooner than we think. Let’s all be obedient disciples and obey the wishes of our bishops and priests. They know what is best for us. God will get us through this.