Search This Blog

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Give us the Mass! Offer it with Sensible Precautions, but Offer it Publicly!

Spanish influenza of 1918


I'll be honest. I'm tired of being told how unprecedented the situation with the coronavirus is. Are we hearing this because people are totally ignorant of history? The 1918 Spanish Influenza epidemic infected a quarter of the world's population at the time and killed millions including Jacinta and Francisco Marto, the seers of Fatima.

It was an HiNi virus like the swine flu and there were no antibiotics at the time to handle secondary bacterial infections. A big difference in that pandemic from today's was how hard it hit the little ones and those in the prime of life with the highest death toll among those younger than five, age 20-40, and the elderly over 65. It seems the Lord has cast a net of protection around the least ones, so abandoned in this evil age.

With regard to the 1918 flu, the CDC tells us:
Mortality was high in people younger than 5 years old, 20-40 years old, and 65 years and older. The high mortality in healthy people, including those in the 20-40 year age group, was a unique feature of this pandemic. While the 1918 H1N1 virus has been synthesized and evaluated, the properties that made it so devastating are not well understood. With no vaccine to protect against influenza infection and no antibiotics to treat secondary bacterial infections that can be associated with influenza infections, control efforts worldwide were limited to non-pharmaceutical interventions such as isolation, quarantine, good personal hygiene, use of disinfectants, and limitations of public gatherings, which were applied unevenly.
Yes, Italy's situation is horrible, but it is NOT unprecedented. The percentage of people who died from the Spanish influenza was much higher than what we're seeing with the coronavirus. What is unprecedented is the number of people on ventilators which weren't invented until the 1950s. The first "breathing machine" was the iron lung, invented in 1928 and used during the polio epidemic. Many more resources today offer more hope for a less devastating outcome.

Medical people offer some reasons that may explain why Italy is being so hard hit:

  • The Lombardy area has a large number of Chinese workers and visitors traveling back and forth, including from the Wuhan province.
  • The population of Italy is the oldest in Europe, and since the virus hits the elderly hardest especially those with underlying health conditions, it is not surprising that they have so many severe cases and so many deaths.
  • A large number of Italians, especially men, are smokers and many have that make any respiratory virus more devastating.
Those are facts! Whether they are the reasons Italy is particularly hard hit is speculation. No one who states those facts should be accused of dismissing or taking lightly the tragic situation in that poor country. Many young people are losing parents and grandparents. To make it all the more surreal and heartbreaking is that so many are dying alone without the consolation of family members around them. Even worse, is that they are dying without the spiritual consolation of their priests and the sacraments.

However, recognizing that death may be imminent is not all bad. Sobering truths have a way of focusing the mind. Knowing that, "Today may be my last day and I better get my soul in order," is a blessing. How many have been taken unaware and unprepared?  We "know not the day or the hour." In a situation like the one we face at present, thinking about the four last things registers high on the prudence scale: Death, Judgment, Heaven or Hell. Where will I spend eternity? Am I ready?

It's sad to see so many in the Catholic world attacking anyone who urges that Masses remain public following sensible safety precautions. Increase the number of Masses and limit the number at each. Initiate distancing rules, sanitize the pews (the faithful would gladly help with that I'm sure). If Communion is distributed, have the priest sanitize his hands after each Communicant and wear a mask. If that isn't practical lead a spiritual Communion prayer instead.

Be honest! Are you still going to the pharmacy...the grocery store...the gas station...Lowes and Home Depot? Is a package of toilet paper or a light bulb more necessary than the Mass?

Journalist Phil Lawler recently wrote at Catholic Culture:
Let me confess in advance: if my diocese follows the example set by the Seattle archdiocese, and suspends the public celebration of Mass, I’ll be looking for a priest who leaves the door unlocked when he celebrates a “private” Mass.

It’s not essential that I receive Communion. If public-health concerns make that impossible, so be it. But I need to participate regularly in the holy Sacrifice; without it, life makes no sense. So if the Mass goes “underground,” so will I....
Yes, of course there is some risk in any public gathering. But I take a risk every time I step into a car. Sensible people take sensible precautions in the face of any danger, and during the length of this epidemic those precautions will rightly be heightened. But there is no way to eliminate all risk. We make our choices; we set our priorities.
And we are prohibited from the Mass? Give us the Mass with precautions!
Yes, it's all about priorities. Are we really so lacking in faith that we don't trust God to know the correct hour to call us home? Is the coronavirus a worse way to go than cancer, stroke, and heart disease? I can't imagine anyone deliberately seeking infection, but since all estimates show that MOST OF US will contract the virus regardless of what we do, should the Church deep six the greatest consolation for the world? Is the body really more important than the soul?

I don't think so, but many whom I thought were serious Catholics including some bishops are acting that way.

That's how I see things and I'm certainly one who is at heightened risk, but I would rather take the risk than be denied the Mass. You can call me selfish (as some have) or dismissive of the deaths (I'm not!), but I will continue to call for restoration of the Mass with prudent precautions. Meanwhile, very few bishops and priests imitate the holy example of Bishop Joseph Strickland who is carrying Jesus out into the highways and biways of Tyler, Texas to bless his spiritual family.

The sun is shining and the temps are mild today. I will take my holy water, my rosary, and my prayer to St. Roch and do a plague walk around the perimeter of our property bringing all my family spiritually into the bounds of Camp Kreitzer, praying for our protection especially our spiritual protection. I have a date on friday with a friend to do the same thing in Woodstock including over to the cemetery, to pray for all the dead there in union with all those dying from the virus.

We in the Church Militant should be using every weapon in the spiritual arsenal to do our part in this war. I'm a lowly transcript in God's army, but I have a powerful general, Our Lady, and I will ask her and my guardian angel to walk with us as we sprinkle holy water and call on the angels and saints to intercede for our protection.

 I invite you to do the same for your family and community. And if you have blessed salt, sprinkle that too!

Viva Cristo Rey!


Catholic in Brooklyn said...

If you are willing to die, that is your decision. But who are you willing to kill others just to get what you want? Who is going to die because of your selfish actions? This is a brand new disease. It is the most infectious disease of this century, more than Ebola, more than any other disease we have seen in decades.. Here in Nw York this disease is doubling every 3 days, and it is going to get worse. And we will be seeing the same thing in this country and around the world.

But you obviously don’t care about anyone but yourself

This is not just about protecting yourself. It is about protecting your neighbor. How dare you write sure an irresponsible post Shame on you Mary Ann. Unbelievably selfish and uncaring about anyone but yourself.

You probably won’t publish my comment because that is who you are. But I will be writing about this on my own blog. And I will mention you.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

Gosh, Mary, what a bunch of judgments from someone who's always telling others not to judge. I stand with those who believe that access to the Mass is essential for the flock. I bet you are still going to the grocery store and other places you consider "essential." I wonder how many you will kill. But they don't count if you caught the virus at WalMart, right?

Chriss Rainey said...

I am with you, Mary Ann. At some point, and it needs to be sooner than later, we need to start making right decisions as Catholics based on what we know best meets the needs of our eternal souls and let go of the fear we have been forced to adopt thanks to the secular world.

There will always be risks. I could die in a car crash on the way to church, but it is time that Catholics in the states only minimally affected by this virus to return to normal while exercising great caution.

We should long ago have ceased all the handshaking and drinking out of the same cup anyway.

Aqua said...

Mary Ann Kreitzer,

That is such an essential point.

I wonder if Catholic in Brooklyn (representing the views of the Bishops who did this to our Lord) will care to answer you, as she has dramatically accused you of being “willing to kill others”.

Why are you willing to kill others for the sake of getting your allotment of two packs of toilet paper; a loaf of bread; standing in line for paper towels? Why are you willing to kill others for physical things like bread and toilet paper .... but feel it is nothing to withhold the King of Heaven and Earth from the Faithful who need Him to live forever in Heaven; feel it is, in fact, *essential* that God on the Cross be withheld from His Faithful in our moment of need?

I’d be interested to see an answer to that, without even getting into the argument that this Coronavirus god is not even as deadly as the common influenza based flu. And we don’t (haven’t yet) use rhetoric of “murderer” for that. Are we now going to close off the Altar for every other virus .... from now on?!

Catholic in Brooklyn said...

People have to eat, Mary Ann. There are some risks which cannot be avoided. Here in NYC people are going out only when they absolutely have to. Going to Mass and taking a chance on killing people when it can be avoided is sinful. God have mercy on your soul.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

By the way, Mary. Happy feast day. I was praying for you at church today. I prayed the Mass of the Annunciation and offered it for you. There were four of us in church, Larry and I in one pew and two other ladies faaaaaar away from us. I was even the correct social distance from Jesus in the monstrance so I wouldn't give Him the coronavirus.

Right, Chriss, closing up NYC makes sense. Most of the current cases in the U.S. are coming from that den of iniquity. Maybe that's why Mary is so scared.

Aqua said...

By this we see what is important. And what is not.

God is sacramentally present in one place, not the other.

Food for the soul; food for the body. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul (Mark 8:36).

The science behind Corona is speculative, not fact. We will see one day, that this was an extreme mania. But even if it were not, and the Black Plague were roaming the earth - we should still show up for Mass and receive Jesus at the perpetual public Sacrifice of His Mass in His Holy Temple. Even though He slay me, yet will I trust Him (Job 13:15).

Catholic in Brooklyn said...

Mary Ann, I will be responding to you on my blog. What is happening in New York will be happening throughout the country. The reason it is happening here first because we have the densest population in the US and many world travelers. I agree that NYC is an evil city, but that is not what this disease is about. Don't think you are safe just because you don't live here. This disease plays no favorites.

Mary Ann Kreitzer said...

You're right, Mary. I have no illusions about the virus. Most of us will get it. That is what the health professionals are saying. Thankfully, most will have no life-threatening complications. All of these draconian measures are to flatten the rate of spread so everyone is not sick at once. At the same time the doctors are saying most people will get it sooner or later.

Do you think you are safe because you lock yourself up in your house and only go out to "risk your life" for a loaf of bread? I haven't been to the store in ten days. I'd rather "risk my life" to be with Jesus.

And do you really have the right to judge the state of my soul? Isn't that what Christ warned against when he said, "Judge not lest you be judged." I've never ever judged the state of anyone's soul, although I've pointed out that some types of behavior (killing babies for one) put one in imminent danger. Last week a friend of mine traveled to Richmond to go to Mass. It was too far for my husband with his knee issues or I would have gone. The parish had strict rules in place limiting the number of attendees (You had to sign up) and the distance between people. Your comment above judges every person in that church including the priest of committing a "sin." I doubt if the Lord agrees.

In 591 St. Gregory the Great, pope at the time, responded to the plague in Rome by organizing a procession through the streets of Rome WITH A CONGREGATION to pray for an end of the disease. They brought the icon of Our Lady of Perpetual Hope painted by St. Luke to lead the procession. Tradition says that 80 people collapsed and died during the march, but Gregory told the people to continue. In the end they saw a vision of St. Michael the Archangel sheathing his bloody sword and the plague ended. I suppose Pope Gregory was sinful too and all those people in the procession, eh?

Catholic in Brooklyn said...

Mary Ann, I am not afraid. First of all, I am almost 100% sure I have already had it in February. I was sick for 2 weeks with all the major symptoms: fever, dry cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, loss of appetite. I will know for sure if I had it as soon as they have the test for antibodies.

But most of all, I am not afraid because I am not afraid of death. I believe in God and accept whatever he has in store for me. This life is only temporary, and I have lived a good portion of it anyway. But I do fear spreading this horrible disease to others, and as much as I love Mass, which I attend daily when it is available, I completely understand and accept that it is not possible now.

I hope you can come to see that, too.

God Saves said...

Yes, it is critical for us to eat, and there is also a critical need to feed the soul. I am hoping there is a way to distribute Holy Communion in a way just as safe as grocery shopping. I am so tired of hearing that trying to be a faithful Catholic, attend Mass and the Sacraments cause others to be ill. Perhaps if there was more prayerfulness we would not be in this situation.

If we can go for gas, to the store, to the doctor, and we should be able to go to Mass and receive Holy Communion. If the Priest said everyone coming must have a Mask and Gloves, that is how I would come. In fact, when I visit the empty Church for a Holy Hour, I wear a mask.

Aqua said...

New York State statistics:

Infected: 30,800
Dead: 285
Population: 19,500,000
Infected rate: 1.6% of population
Death rate: .0014% of population (1.4/100,000 about the same as Italy which is peaking).

It’s not that bad.

I imagine it is about the same as normal influenza. New York State had 106,000 influenza cases this year. 30,800 Coronas.

Tom A. said...

Did not Jesus say that we should seek the food and drink that if we eat and drink we will never hunger or thirst again. That food is much more essential than the food and drink of which we will hunger and thirst again.

Anonymous said...

Conditions in NYC are completely different from conditions in suburbs and rural areas. Here in Virginia, it would be completely reasonable to allow Mass with the strict precautions outlined in this article.

I'm not sure if it was mentioned in the article, but I think it would also be prudent to temporarily exclude children under the age of say 10, since they frequently aren't able to consistently practice good hygiene.

SoldierOn said...

Catholic in Brooklyn not only does not have faith but wants to deprive those that do. You write that "People have to eat...There are some risks which cannot be avoided...Going to Mass and taking a chance on killing people when it can be avoided is sinful. God have mercy on your soul." Step away from the propaganda media and get some facts. If you like, start with the CDC. The Colorado gov shut down our entire state after 19 deaths. 19! That's insane. Jesus said we do not have life in us unless we eat of His Body and Drink of His Blood. That's the Food Brooklyn is condemning us for wanting. Everyone at Mass knows the "risk" they are taking and are willing to do so. I would die to receive Him. How dare you prevent me from seeking My Lord. Stay home with your loaf of bread and piles of TP. You don't belong in church.