Love and waiting

Several years ago, a young man who wasn’t even dating earnestly told me that NFP can hurt marriage, because what would happen if it was Valentine’s Day, and your chart said you can’t have sex?

I’m afraid I did not respond with grace. I had been married for several years, and was well aware of the unpleasantness of abstinence. Well aware. I wasn’t using NFP to avoid pregnancy because I simply didn’t understand how neat sex can be, or that I wasn’t romantic enough, or didn’t love my husband enough, or didn’t love babies enough, or didn’t understand what marriage was for. It was that I was staring down the barrel of cold reality: Valentine’s Day is fun, but it doesn’t pair well with unemployment, homelessness, and Irish twins. 

At least this fellow was just naive. I’ve encountered men and women who are more experienced with marriage, but still say that avoiding pregnancy may be sensible and prudent, but love calls us to something higher: Boldly accepting suffering. 

And this is true. Love and suffering very often go together in this world. Cf: the crucifixion.

But here’s the key: Out of love for us, Jesus took on suffering for himself. That’s what we’re supposed to imitate, when we learn how to love: Being willing to personally suffer because of love.

You’re not allowed to crucify other people and call that “love.” If the thing you call “love” is voluntary and makes other people suffer, then that’s not love. That’s something else.

Imagine the man who would love another child despite the responsibility it brings, but he thinks, “My wife the one whose body is getting torn up each time. If she says she needs a break, and I say I love her, then I need to listen.” So they wait. That’s love.

Or take a woman who’s dying for another baby despite the pain it brings,  but she thinks, “My husband is the one who’s working eighty hours a week and can’t sleep at night with anxiety over the future. If he says we need a break, and I say I love him, then I need to listen.” So they wait. That’s love. 

Or take the parents who are ready and willing to add to the family, but they also have a toddler in the ICU, or a teenager who’s having a mental health crisis, and they know another pregnancy would take time and attention that’s already in short supply. So they wait. That’s love. 

This is what love sometimes looks like. You know when something is good, and you know that it’s good to want it, but you tell yourself to wait, because you don’t want to hurt other people. You cannot voluntarily choose to hurt someone else and call that “love.” If we’re truly willing to suffer for love, then we should be willing to choose the suffering of waiting.

Maybe you guessed this is my roundabout way of talking about missing Mass and forgoing the Eucharist during the pandemic. 

I’ve heard more times than I can count that Catholics who are content to stay home from Mass simply don’t love and want Jesus enough; that those who willingly forgo the Eucharist because of the pandemic are doing so because they are lukewarm.

I’ve heard over and over that Catholics who truly understand what an incredible thing the Eucharist is will be willing to go to Mass and risk catching the virus because they are not cowards. They are willing to take this risk of suffering because they are so on fire with love for Jesus in the sacrament. 

Since I keep hearing these things, I’ll say it again:

You’re not allowed to crucify other people and call that “love.”

If the thing you call “love” is voluntary and makes other people suffer, then that’s not love. That’s something else.

A pandemic is, by definition, a shared risk. Very few people are so radically isolated and independent from other people that they can take on a personal risk that isn’t also a risk to someone else.

An asymptomatic person may feel his heart burning with love for Christ in the Eucharist, and unknowingly pass on the virus to the priest, who goes on to infect everyone he touches, in and out of Mass. Or a healthy person may catch the virus from the priest, and then pass it along to the next three people they meet at the grocery store.

We know this can happen. We know this is exactly how it happened, causing hundreds of thousands of people to suffer and die. When people come into contact with each other, those who had the virus and passed it to others, who passed it on to still others. Taking steps to avoid the transmission of the virus to others isn’t cowardice. It’s not lukewarmness. It’s not a sign of weakness or fear or selfishness or a lack of love. It is the very thing that people do when they love each other: They make sacrifices. They forgo good things. They take care. They wait.

This is what love sometimes looks like. And we are commanded to love one another. If we’re truly willing to suffer for love, then we should be willing to choose the suffering of waiting.

Here’s the strangest part of all: 

When, out of love for someone else, you make a habit of patiently forgoing something that is good, then you will more and more readily recognize that good thing as a gift, rather than as a right. And when we conceive of it as a gift, rather than a right, it becomes easier to bear the pain of waiting. 

It’s true for sex and babies, and it’s true for Mass and the Eucharist. When someone tells you, “You can’t have this,” you may feel angry and deprived. So instead, tell yourself, “I choose to wait for this, out of love.” See how you begin to feel about the thing you must wait for. Immerse yourself in love, and see your sense of entitlement dissolve, even as your ardor grows.

Try it. Try telling yourself, “I am staying home because I love my fellow man.” Take your name off foolish petitions. Remove the self-serving protest frame from your profile picture. Above all, refuse to voluntarily hurt other people and call it “love.” Take care that, when you say “I would die for Jesus,” you don’t really mean, “I’m willing to kill for him.” 

Remember that Jesus is always a gift, and in no way something we deserve or are entitled to. Recall that we are called to love. Out of love, be content to wait. 



Photo by Komoteus via Flickr (Creative Commons)


Liked it? Take a second to support simchajfisher on Patreon!

47 thoughts on “Love and waiting”

  1. We should make a distinction between attending Mass and receiving the Eucharist. 100 years ago people received infrequently–perhaps there was a practical reason for this. For the time being, maybe we need to return to infrequent communion to stem the risk of infection and also to address the pathetic belief in Jesus’ real presence. As for Mass: why can’t we gather outside in large areas, distanced apart? Dispensations can be put in place, at least for these milder months here in the states. The real question is why we cannot be allowed to ask these questions or consider safer options, given that Mass is 100% essential to our spiritual health. Why can’t we have a rational discussion to sort out the best options?

  2. Very well written.
    But, worrying about mass or no mass is a moot point.
    I miss mass and all, but it is what it is. I watch on Tv. It’s fine.
    The fact is, the bishops folded and made it clear church is non-essential while liquor stores are totally essential.
    So it is.
    So did doctors. They abandoned those who don’t have covid.
    Right now I’m very concerned that my daughter can’t get her “elective” back surgery because of this and there is a very real possibility she may pass a point of no return. She gets no therapy, nothing and eventually may be unable to walk.

    And there are many people who are being harmed by this shutdown.

    I can’t help but think this physical reality parallels the spiritual reality of many Catholics in the world. The church is a hospital for sick fragile souls. Under the circumstances, it does feel a little like being kicked to the curb.
    That’s how I see it.

  3. I don’t often agree with Simcha, but I think she’s correct here: An individual who makes a prudential judgment to refrain from going to Mass due to concerns about the virus should NOT be condemned. After all, that individual may be immuno-compromised or have a family member who is.

    That being said, I AM disturbed by how some govts have encroached upon the Free Exercise Clause in this situation. Here in Indiana, an addendum to Gov. Holcomb’s executive order indicated that “only prepackaged communion may be used” during worship services. In fairness, I do not believe that Gov. Holcomb understands the centrality of the Eucharist to Catholicism & that his advice comes from genuine concern. Nevertheless, such direct expression of HOW worship should be conducted is troubling.

    I also fear that the longer we are relegated to watching Mass streaming, the more comfortable we will become with such an arrangement: it is 1000% easier to watch Mass live online, without having to shower, dress kids, or drive anywhere. I know that — when the time comes — our family will return to being physically present, but some will not do so. However, I also know that bishops — who are entrusted with the care of souls — will have to make sure that people WILL return to the Sacraments when they become available again; we must pray that God gives the bishops wisdom to convince their flocks to return.

    NOTE: What I’ve posted above applies ONLY to Mass-going. My views on opening up the economy (businesses, govt offices) are wholly different inasmuch as, IMHO, continuing forced closures are having a SEVERE detrimental effects on the continuing viability of small businesses and local governments, as well as on the financial security of families.
    I also fret about the mental health of those who are on lockdown.

    1. I agree with many of your sentiments. Carlos regarding Small business and mental health. It was reported that two butchers in Australia took their life the other day and it is being blamed for the impact of the lockdowns on their business and this is only what has been reported, im sure many many more suicides or domestic violence incidences are happening because of the financial stress of the lockdowns. Our personal experience of keeping a small business above water has been very very difficult- particularly for my husband. I mean the expenses don’t go away and the financial sacrifice has been hard.

      I do find it very telling that here in Australia the government is more keen to open up pubs and restaurants before they are to open up Churches. I understand that many in the hospitality industry have been left jobless but I always feel that Churches are not on the forefront and the government assumes more people want a beer before they want the community that Church brings. They speak of mental health but Church, Communion and community is vital for our mental health. Do they not realise this?

      However when Churches open I do feel that their will be less Live Mass and perhaps this will cease. And people will go back to physical Church. And as important it is to wake the kids up and get them dressed and ready for their day of remote learning, I feel it equally important to wake up get dressed and be ready for Live Mass as though we were there- and expect the kids to show the same reverence.

      1. Well said, Ezabelle. I’m not surprised that the Australian governments are emphasizing “pubs over pews,” as many US State and local govts are doing the same. Here in the US, sales taxes are a large portion of state revenues, as are food/beverage taxes for local govts. The federal govt levies taxes on alcohol, though it isn’t as large of a share of its revenues. I don’t know if taxation of this type is similar in Australia, but it’s clear that govts have an incentive to re-open these places to resume revenue collection.

        I’ll note that there IS growing litigation on the church front, however, as governmental interference with the US Constitution’s Free Exercise clause is patently obvious in some places (i.e. the State of Wisconsin, city of Louisville, KY). Plus, 42 USC section 1983 allows for the recovery of attorneys fees if attorneys successfully sue a state or local government…my profession is always attracted to such provisions : )

  4. It’s prudent to suspend Mass during these times. However nobody is suspending our prayer life. I always thought this was a unanimous feeling, and didn’t know many in the Church felt otherwise. Thank God for technology- there are opportunities every Sunday to attend “virtual” Mass anywhere in the world for free on YouTube. And that we can say the Spiritual Act of Communion as another way of receiving receiving Jesus. The upside of technology and our Faith.

  5. I’ve been thinking about this a lot. My natural inclination is along these lines. But I really have been second guessing this idea for a bit lately, for a number of reasons. I may be off base, but –
    1. I personally know several people (who I know to be holier than myself), who really think we should think outside the box to find ways for people to attend Mass. They are shouted down immediately as selfish,for even daring to think such things. So many very loud people don’t even want to consider if there are ways to attend Mass safely. It’s shocking to me, especially because the people I know who are desperate to go to Mass are not selfish. They just aren’t, and so when I hear over and over again, “they’re just selfish for putting their own desires over people’s LIVES,” or worse, when they’re called attempted murderers, I just can’t take it seriously. The rhetoric on both sides is appalling, but I’m feeling defensive for these people I love.
    2. I called my grandparents as soon as it became apparent how serious this was, to try and talk them out of going to Mass (back when the obligation was lifted, but public Masses were still offered). I felt very righteous doing it. I’m embarrassed how condescending I must have been, just knowing I knew better than they did what was good for them. The thing is, my grandpa knows he is at the end of his life, and wants to spend it doing what really matters – being with family (which he’s accepted can’t happen right now), and going to Mass. That’s all that matters to him. Again, I guess this is just more of point number one, but is he wrong? He seems to take St. Paul seriously in considering EVERYTHING else rubbish compared with Christ. Is he wrong? Was St. Paul wrong? Or was I prioritizing the wrong things? I guess he just sees things on different planes – if you balance your own life against the Eucharist, sure, the Eucharist wins. But what about other people’s lives? 100 other lives? What’s the balance then? But what if these things are even comparable? The spiritual things just can’t be weighed against the earthly (even earthly life)? That seems to be the path many saints have taken. The English Martyrs knew that if they said Mass, or allowed Mass said in their house, that not only themselves but others could very possibly be killed. But the Sacraments were worth it to them. Shouldn’t I take their example to heart? How is this different (besides actual martyrdom, obviously that’s not happening here)?
    3. It seems like working out all the possible consequences of an action, and basing what we do on those possible outcomes, is simply consequentialism. Seriously, I’ve had to fight this tendency in myself a lot lately. How is this whole attitude not consequentialism?
    So I don’t know. It doesn’t matter so much in practice right now. But it might soon. And I’m going to have to figure it out. Which is another thing that worries me – how are we ever going to walk down from this place of fear that we must possibly (but unintentionally) hurt someone else. It’s just never going to happen, because some risk will always be there (and always has been).

    1. Wow – this was very well stated. And it’s actually where my siblings and I came out on this during a zoom call when we were talking about the possibility of my mom going back to Mass once it’s allowed. Daily Mass is not a small part of her life. It is her life. She’s old and her body is failing her. She has been complaining about the lockdown and her boredom (translation: loneliness). Why shouldn’t she take a risk and do what makes her happy with the time she has left, even if it means she ends up martyring herself? She’s certainly sound enough of mind to understand the danger and to take obvious precautions.

      I guess I’m all over the place on this thread agreeing with different points of view. Simcha’s article has presented a clear dichotomy of views but I wonder if there isn’t a vast, somewhat silent swath of Catholics who, like me, feel conflicted and not terribly convicted one way or the other. For me, 1) I don’t mind the lockdown or resent the online Masses. 2) We’d likely go back to Mass if it became optional again. 3) I’d prefer my mom and other seniors not put themselves at risk but 4) I really do understand if they do.

      I also wonder (worry)? that once this is over, how do we tell ourselves we HAVE to get to Mass on those few days every year when it’s really inconvenient? Can’t we just watch a youtube video instead? Mass is optional now, so how much of a mortal sin can it really be on one of those stress- filled days when attending Mass is almost certainly going to be the near occasion of venial sin – likely resulting in speeding, yelling at kids, spending too much money on an easy dinner, etc.

    2. Consequentialim, if I’ve understood it correctly, refers to acceptance of the idea that it is sometimes necessary to do things that are clearly morally wrong in order that some particular good may come about (i.e., bombing Hiroshima to spare prisoners of war in Japan from further internment, and to spare the Allies a longer war when they were exhausted). It does not refer to any idea that it is wrong to consider the consequences of an action that is not intrinsically evil when deciding whether to undertake that action or not. Is missing Mass intrinsically evil? That’s the question. Missing Mass intentionally is a sin; missing Mass unintentionally because circumstances do not permit it is a deprivation but not a sin, especially when the Church’s representatives have said that it is not a sin in those circumstances. So I don’t think the charge of consequentialism against the Mass nay-sayers is appropriate here. I don’t know, and I’ll accept (polite) correction if I’m mistaken.

      Meanwhile, I suppose it’s possible that there might be ways of administering the Eucharist that were less risky to public health than a regular, crowded Church service.

      1. Consequentialism says that we determine what is right or wrong solely by the consequences of an action. So we don’t look at an action itself, in addition to the circumstances surrounding it, to determine whether it’s moral or not. It can lead to things like bombing civilians, because good comes of it (but if we look at the act of bombing civilians as well as just the consequences, it becomes clear that act is immoral). I don’t think missing Mass on Sunday is wrong in itself, even when there isn’t a blanket dispensation. I definitely don’t think so now. But I’m uncomfortable saying attending Mass is WRONG, simply because something bad might happen. And I’m very uncomfortable equating attending Mass with KILLING our neighbors. Maybe Simcha doesn’t mean to equate Mass attendance with murder, but it looks like that’s what she’s doing. How is that not consequentialism?

        1. I hope you are the Lisa who commented at the start of this little sub-conversation (if not, apologies!) I’ve just re-read Simcha’s reflection carefully and I don’t see where she suggests that attending Mass is “WRONG” or equates Mass attendance with murder. Her premise – hence the way this situation dovetails so well with decisions around childbearing – is that attending Mass is good. Good in and of itself, like babies are.

          Even under ordinary circumstances, bad things can result from attending Mass (one could contract or pass on other illnesses, for example.) In this pandemic, the situation is such that one could argue, as Simcha does, that giving up Mass for the time is prudent and charitable (hence her treatment of love) to the vulnerable.

          If you consider that the vulnerable in this situation are only people like your grandfather, who in the later years of their life feel their vocations complete and have a sense readiness to meet the Lord, then I think it is much harder to see giving up Mass as something that might be prudent. Unfortunately with this wretched new virus, we don’t entirely know who the vulnerable are and they aren’t confined to the aged.

          We all reason from our circumstances. I certainly do. My husband is in his forties. He’s not obese, he doesn’t smoke, we’re newly married after a long time of seeking. At 39 he had to have the lining of his heart removed because he caught a respiratory bug, and his cardiac lining filled up with fluid and became so scarred that inhibited his heart function. He had to have open heart surgery, and has permanent scarring in his heart. We know he may not live as long as he might had that not happened, we know he could die of a hundred different things (not limited to disease) at any point. We know we’re not in control. And we know he is unusual, but I am sure he is just one of the “hidden vulnerable” in our community.

          Since my husband does less well with cardiopulmonary strain as result of his previous illness, it seems to us that this coronavirus would be very dangerous to him. Even though attending Mass is a positive good, a necessary grace, it doesn’t seem like virtue to ignore the vocation we were just given, and put him in situations that are a threat to his life. And since we’re married and I’d likely pass any infection on to him, I also have to be careful. This is our attempt at prudence.

          We don’t think going to Mass is bad; I certainly don’t think any who attends Mass is committing some sort of evil. But in this situation, risk is communal, as Simcha pointed out. If there wasn’t a dispensation I don’t know what we’d do; probably try to talk to our priest. So, as it is, I view the suspension of public Masses as charity to people in our situation. It means one less possible opportunity for the virus to spread, one less likelihood that some chance encounter would lead to a dangerous situation for my husband and people like him. I feel it as a kindness in a situation where prudential decisions abound, and even though I am sad, I am grateful.

          1. EA, I completely understand and agree with everything you’re saying. I do not think anyone should be made to feel as if they have to go to Mass right now. Obviously, we all need to evaluate our own situations, and make the most prudent decisions we can. And for the most part, we are bound by our circumstances anyway, since public Masses aren’t an option for most people. But what I am seeing a lot of is the idea that anyone who wants priests and bishops to come up with creative ways to allow public Masses is selfish. Because they don’t love their neighbors or care about what happens to them. Maybe I’m overly sensitive about this and read more into what Simcha was saying than she meant by this, “Take care that, when you say “I would die for Jesus,” you don’t really mean, “I’m willing to kill for him.” ” Lots and lots of people are pushing the idea that it would be wrong to go to Mass right now, akin to killing your neighbor. That’s all I’m objecting to. I will pray for health and peace for you and your husband.

            1. Oh, I’m probably overly sensitive too, just from a different perspective. Where I’ve been reading there’s been overlap between those calling for resumed public Masses and those who don’t think the virus is much of a threat, but I can see how that statement would bother someone coming from the other perspective.

              And I’ve read those calling for resuming public Masses safely also objecting to limited congregation sizes, objecting to wearing of masks, etc., and urging people to write strongly to their bishops to resume Mass *now.* *Now* is probably not good for my area (MD) and all the other actions seem like necessary safety measures to me.

              It all started getting to me, so that’s why I’m reading and commenting over here.

              Thanks so much for the prayers (seriously and sincerely)! I will pray for you too.

  6. Thanks for posting this! Needed to hear both sides of the argument- the NFP and the waiting on the Eucharist. I agree here that the hardest part (aside from not having the Eucharist) is not taking part in the community. It’s the comfort of seeing other families and knowing that I’m not alone in raising my kids and the sense of extended family the parish provides. Our parish is a medium sized one with a school for the kids (mine go there) and the families are all pretty tight knit. This whole situation has made me realize how much I took that sense of community for granted, and really how very much I’m missing it now.

    On the upside, my family has become tighter, my marriage healthier and the kids, well, they’ve had a LOT more screen time than usual!

  7. Thank you for this. Makes sense.

    I miss mass. I also see a big silver lining in all of this. My kids (four of them) see their Dad every single day for a big chunk of time. Unheard of. I like the feeling of not being in the rat race–or at least putting it on hold. I rode a bike with my kids for the first time in decades. It was so great. I had to relearn 7th grade math and my kid loves my help. We laugh a lot.

    I loved zipping over the Golden Gate Bridge yesterday to pick up my daughter at the park in front of the “Painted Ladies”. No traffic. I love that she seems more relaxed without a social life to attend to. She has been able to keep her fashion job in NYC, AND make her own line of hand sewn garments, with the commute time gone. I have painted more art in four weeks than in the last 30 years.

    When my daughter’s support puppy from Sacramento was sold to the next desperate person who outbid her, and our Standard Poodle happened to be in heat, we put an ad on craigslist, and a nice young lady showed up from Santa Cruz to stud her golden doodle for a pick of the litter. It looks like we are possibly expectant Goldendoodle grandparents, and our daughter will get to bring a puppy back with her when the city reopens. We would never have had the time for this.

    I don’t want to get this virus. I have a weird blood pressure thing that shoots up with stress. My husband is going to be a front line worker in SF on Wednesday. Please say a quick prayer if you’re reading this.

    I wouldn’t trade most of our shelter in place time. We do mass online every Sunday morning with Bishop Barron. Our dog gets to come, and loves it. The doors to his chapel are the same doors that used to be in the church across the street where I went to school. I used to go to mass there in the morning by myself to avoid my teachers for an extra half hour. (You wouldn’t get in trouble for being late if you were at mass).

    Silver linings.

    1. Exactly Anna Lisa! I’m loving this lockdown! Having the whole family together these past few months with almost no outside commitments has been a real blessing. And we are fortunate to still have Sunday Mass with our pastor. I use Chromecast and put it right up on the big screen TV so our whole family can all participate together. No worries if the boys of a certain age all have clean fingernails and decent shoes in case they get called up to serve on the altar.

      Friday morning, we’re having our parish school May crowning, which will also be right there on youtube. (Not sure how that one is going to work since I don’t have a child in the 8th grade. The pastor said something about cars at our grotto). Honestly, from a spiritual standpoint, the thing I think is hardest is not being able to go to wakes and funerals. Our dear friend lost his dad last week. The father was in a nursing home and so our friend wasn’t even allowed to be there while his dad was dying of the virus. Mercifully, our parish is putting the funerals on youtube as well, but it’s just not the same as being there for them.

      But I suppose that might be how some people feel about missing Mass and not receiving the Eucharist so I don’t want to judge their pain. Also, here in Philadelphia most of our churches are massive and families could pretty easily physically distance themselves if they were so inclined. But then, people like my elderly mother from a physical standpoint probably shouldn’t be going to Mass right now, but it’s people like her who probably would go to daily Mass if she could. It’s not only her spiritual life, it’s her social life as well. But I just can’t see how Communion could be safe for her.

      1. Yeah, the shelter in place rule has reduced my stress levels. Sunday mornings are not rush, rush, rush. It’s not that I prefer this, I think we just *needed* it. Frankly, it has also improved a sense of the presence of God.

        My 84 year old mother is at risk, but knows how to advocate for herself, and use proper social distancing. She’s a germ-a-phobe and hasn’t shaken anybody’s hand at mass for years. Sigh. Feisty as they make ’em. I’m more worried about the Fox News she watches everyday. My husband flipped it on last night, and after five minutes I really felt uncharitable feelings about Raymond Arroyo. What is that man’s deal? The talking heads on all sides are exhausting. I made him switch to local news just to get rid of all of the complaining, and learn things about our own community. When did adults become such bellyachers?

        I miss mass. I think they could do a better job with safely giving people communion if Grub Hub is delivering to our doors…I’m afraid the local priests just need to be good examples of solidarity with people of other faiths that are making this sacrifice. Church-spread of the disease has become notorious, so it doesn’t help if Christians are having temper tantrums on top of using lethally poor judgement. This too will pass. My friend’s family in Japan went without the sacraments for 400 years. We need to sweat the big stuff. All the Vigano- style conspiracy theories are like insult to injury. What is wrong with them???

        1. I’ve been frustrated by that too Anna Lisa (the conspiracy theories, Raymond Arroyo, etc). It saddens me when Catholics buy into all that.

          1. Right? As if there wasn’t enough burdening our hearts. I’ve had it with the screaming MeeMees. Ugh. How about just common sense without a gay/communist/liberal aggressor/agenda?

            I hope you and your family are well Claire! :). We are very reasonably well, and thankful. One of my sons is devastated about not being able to go to class at UCSB in the fall, but it’s not a death sentence. He’s thinking of going to UCSB in Colombia *online*. 🙂 Doesn’t sound like a good idea, but I guess anything is almost possible when you are that young.

            1. We are doing as well as can be expected. Trusting God with our finances and our health. I’m so sorry for what your son is going through. My heart goes out to highschool seniors and college students who have to face things none of us could have imagined when we were their age.

              1. I’m glad to hear it you are reasonably well Claire. My husband is on his second day of volunteering as a civil servant. (I was so apprehensive..) But he came home in SUCH a good mood. He just loved being around people again. Being the only guy coming home on Golden Gate transit was a trip. He was giddy.

                I almost feel the worst for my fifth grader who will never get to go to outdoor camp like all of her siblings. She was looking forward to it SO much. She will graduate via ZOOM. I’ve heard that some municipalities are closing off roads in the downtown, so restaurants can serve in adjacent parks, parking lots and streets. I HOPE they do that here. If we can do *that* than we can have outdoor mass. It might e even great. We have to find ways of being more *human* again because this “herd” immunity is looking like it’s going to take a lot longer than we’d like. They haven’t even succeeded in making a vaccine for AIDS…

                1. My son is also missing his 6th grade graduation, which is sad since he’s been at that elementary school for 7 years. They’ll probably do something virtual, but obviously it won’t be the same. I agree that it would be good if parishes and dioceses were granted permission to “think outside the box” regarding Mass, because otherwise it doesn’t look like it will happen anytime soon. Large indoor gatherings are still too risky.

        2. So we’ve had a big change with my mom these last few days. My sister’s been dropping off her groceries at her back door for months now. But now, she’s refusing to stay locked in her house. She’s a very careful person, maybe even the most careful person I know. Her whole life she’s been a rule follower. She’s never done anything rashly or in excess. So back in early March when the CDC said old people should stay away from crowds, she canceled her trip down here to see her grandchild’s performance. But as of a few days ago, she decided to walk to her unlocked church every day and spend some time with the Blessed Sacrament. Yesterday she ran into one of her daily Mass friends there. They decided to meet up at normal Mass time this morning and say the Rosary together. It turns out there were already a few others there doing the same thing! All while physically distanced from each other, of course.

          She’s also been to stores every day since she made the decision to refuse to be quarantined. She said to me, “I don’t know if I’ll get this virus and if I do get it I don’t know that it will kill me, but I do know that staying cooped up in here is bad for my mental and physical health. I’m going to go out, wear my mask and go about my life.” We’ll see what happens.

          1. I don’t know what kind of news your Mom follows, but mine thinks that Fox news is the only source she needs for the truth. It kind of feeds into her “I’m mad as hell at these leftists” complex, which is encouraging her to venture out more.

            Even though she is smart, I feel that they are messing with her head, and getting her to act in such a way to support her “team”. Kind of dumb.

            Nobody wants to socially isolate, but if I was 84, and didn’t have a death wish, I’d make sure that I was 20 feet away from anybody in a church, and that no fan/heat/air conditioning was in use.

  8. Thank you, thank you! I read a post by one of those popular Catholic bloggers who’s willing to “die for Jesus” and it made me cringe. I actually thought: “I hope Simcha responds to this selfish entitled nonsense!” And you did. Thank you! I live in Italy, we lost so many of our priests to Covid19 these past months… 40 priests died just in the diocese of Bergamo. There is no room for that “it’s all about me and my spiritual needs” attitude. It’s not Christian.

    1. I have been feeling the same way, and I also hoped Simcha would address some of these issues. So sorry for what you’ve been through in Italy. Tragic doesn’t even begin to cover it.

    2. I saw that too, and thought that approach was asking the wrong question. Of course dying for Jesus is more glamorous than sacrificing your desire to attend Mass and receive the Eucharist, but that’s the cross we’re being asked to bear every day right now, and that is the life of a Christian: picking up the cross we’ve each been given daily.

      Thank you, Simcha.

      1. “Of course dying for Jesus is more glamorous than sacrificing your desire to attend Mass” – spot on! We don’t choose which sacrifice we get to make, and especially not when that “sacrifice” is actually doing exactly what you wanted to do in the first place.

  9. Thank you for this!

    We believe my husband is at higher risk from this pandemic due to already having had life-threatening complications after infection by another completely unrelated common respiratory virus. It is a relief to read commentary from a Catholic perspective that doesn’t treat the vulnerable as just some percentage of the population that would probably have died of influenza this year anyway.

  10. Mass is coming back ‘online’ in our diocese, but theres a dispensation on attendance until the end of June. It’s interesting reading this in light of trying to make it a personal decision rather than willingly submitting to a decree.

    Makes the NFP correlation a little stronger too.

  11. All true, though, as with most things, both can hold. That is, in our diocese, the obligation is still lifted, but parishes can now have Mass as long as distance is maintained, the church is cleaned afterwards, no shared chalice, etc. So it was a huge blessing to get to go to Mass this Sunday – most people masked, all six feet or more from every other household, and the (masked for that time) priest and deacon bringing Communion to each row of seats rather than having a line. No holy water, doors propped open to enter and exit, and dismissed by family so no bottleneck at the door. No more risk than grocery shopping and probably rather less.

    All of which is to say that I agree with your point, but disagree with everyone who insists that churches are some special point of infection that other places aren’t (like that church that did the drive-in service and everyone got tickets – later rescinded, because DoJ – but the full restaurant parking lots were considered both necessary and risk-free).

    1. I read this article this past week (which I see has already been posted)

      I know there’s a lot of science-y writing floating around that is hard to verify. The author posts her credentials and she analyzes incidents that had been publicly reported on.

      From what I gather from the article, religious services are a risky because they involve a long time in a shared space with a fair amount of talking by a large number of people (congregants making responses.) This helped me to understand why the Thomistic Institute guidelines for resuming public Masses recommend the dispensation for the vulnerable remain in place for the first two phases, even with extra distance between people, etc.

      I’ve seen the grocery store comparison make its rounds and it palls on me. No authority in my state (which has a pretty bad outbreak) ever described going to the store as “safe.” Regulations ask us to shop as little as possible, presumably because it is unsafe. My husband is high risk; grocery shopping is probably the least safe thing I do and I don’t do so lightly (or frequently) because of the risk to him.

      My situation is doubtless unique, but I’d actually judge after reading the above article that the grocery store is probably safer than socially distanced Mass in my particular church. Time spent in each building is roughly the same, but even our small local grocery is about three times the size of our church. I’d say there are about the same number shopping when I do as attend Sunday Mass, but people don’t stand still and stay together for more than minute or two when shopping, except for checkout, but no one speaks much at checkout these days.

      Other places are different to be sure.

      1. I too was really surprised after reading how this author views grocery shopping in terms of risk. It makes me feel safer about shopping, although I’m still going to keep it to a minimum (and I have to admit it drives me crazy when I see couples shopping, despite the signs that request one household member at a time whenever possible).

        1. Oh, yes! It seemed reasonable and jibes with my experience in classrooms (former elementary school teacher) where I would wipe, wipe, wipe surfaces like crazy, but inevitably we’d all catch each other’s crud. Probably because we were all in the same room all day talking and breathing each other’s respiratory droplets. (Well, and kids have not quite developed immune systems.)

          So, I’m probably full of confirmation bias, but it sure helped me feel a little better about shopping.

    2. My diocese permits people to remove their masks once they are seated in a household cluster that is six feet from other clusters. One spring-allergy sneeze from an asymptomatic covid carrier could infect the whole place, not to mention the general brewing effect of everyone just breathing and speaking together for an hour. No, thank you. Fortunately, at our tiny weekday Masses, peer pressure is causing nearly everybody to keep their masks on for the duration, and we have been automatically seating ourselves with more like ten feet minimum distance. Nevertheless, I sit close to an exterior door, and if an unmasked person were to sneeze, I would leave immediately.

    3. Just to clarify, I was hoping that, at this point, we’d have better data for the US so we could accurately judge what the actual risk is for various things. Like, this time last year, I would have thought nothing of putting the kids in the car for a 20 minute freeway drive to the zoo, and no one would have considered me a maniac for doing so, even though driving on the freeway does carry a certain amount of risk. But I wouldn’t make that same drive while texting, which is also risky, but in a different category than the drive alone. And my grandma shouldn’t have been driving at all. The current CovId-19 risk, I don’t think anyone yet knows how to accurately assess (which is why I have been pretty much nowhere in 8 weeks, just in case it sounds like I’m running around because tra-la, it’s probably fine).

      What I don’t like is putting churches in a special category of “last to open, why would anyone think *any* level of ‘risk for Jesus’ is okay???” (ala Illinois, for example), sort of like (to continue with the NFP analogy) people who would wonder why anyone would have a large family because “have you thought about what could happen if your spouse died and you had to raise all those kids alone?” or “some large families are abusive, so why are you trying to be like them?” Risk is inherent to life, and the prudential call of where to draw the line is *really hard* even when we have good data.

      1. I agree with you. We’d probably go to Mass if our parish were to hold one. But we’d encourage my mom to stay home.

  12. Thank you so much for writing this. I just read an article indicating that large religious gatherings are a huge source of potential infection. Here’s the link if anyone’s interested:

    I hope that when churches reopen in our diocese, the bishop lifts the Sunday obligation so that high risk people don’t feel pressured to attend. Not because I don’t long for the Eucharist, but because I don’t want to inadvertently infect others or pass the virus to people in my family who are high risk.

    1. I read that article too. It’s excellent! I am hoping that outdoor Masses might be offered as a way to keep infection risk low.

      1. That would be awesome! Anna makes a good point about having the doors open during Mass to increase circulation. So much safer than generating the AC.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *