We no longer attend the parish we are registered in and have called home for the last eight years. Initially it never occurred to me that we would be making a move when the churches were all shut down last spring. Because of our age we thought it might be a good thing to start going back to a smaller parish and at a mass time that is sparsely attended. Many continued, even after the government dictators said it was ok to open churches, to stay at home, hunkered in their bunkers against the deadly killer lurking just beyond their door. ---unless they needed bacon or booze, of course.
I overheard the woman in front of me recently at the grocery checkout line, chatting up the cashier. She was telling him how many donuts were in her bakery bag and where the price was on her deli mac and cheese container. Even through her mask, I recognized her familiar voice and I called out, Hello, (name here), how are you? It’s nice to see you again. This person is a staffer at the liberal social justice parish we left eight years ago and seeing it was me, startled her somewhat. She was polite enough but only in a courteous way. I asked her about another person in that parish who used to be my friend. I asked if she was still in that parish and this person’s answer was, “I wouldn’t know, I can’t attend mass. I’m compromised.”
She can go to Safeway, but not mass. She can live without the Eucharist, but just not her mac n cheese. This parish, by the way is now closed again by order of the pastor who has the virus. He suspended all masses and all office hours. His parish has from the beginning required reservations, designated seating, escorted entrance and exit, no communion on the tongue, and masks masks masks!!!
After a couple of weeks, we did attend mass at the parish where we are registered and were frankly stunned at the appearance of blue painters tape and written directives hung on alternating pews to NOT SIT IN THIS ROW. Few people were there. The priest wore a mask and so did 99% of the people in the pews. I understood why they were wearing them. Or thought I did. Most were afraid, but as weeks went on, it became obvious that there was less actual fear than there was an attitude of smugness and pride that THEY cared about people and THEY would comply with this “order” no matter how foolish it is in fact. Real fact. IF you are sick and IF you are afraid then stay home or wear a mask IF it makes you feel better. I don’t have a problem with that. But this is no longer the case with most people who are not afraid, but only determined to get everyone else to do what they have chosen to do.
I despise that kind of blind obedience and need convincing that wearing a cotton broadcloth homemade mask in your favorite pattern or color is going to save the nation.
When I spoke to the pastor, whom I respect and adore, he said not only are people getting less likely to wear a mask in the near future, he is being pressured by some who do mask up to DEMAND and REQUIRE everyone else to do the same. In other words, how dare they show up without a mask! (The question one would like to ask them, of course, is: “If your mask is working, then why do I need one? I won’t catch anything from you, and you can’t catch anything from me.” Assuming of course, that YOUR mask IS working and forming your conclusion that I should have one.)
They believe, it seems, and want to convince others to assume that if we ALL just simply wore a mask we would be cured. For how long must we wear them? They don’t say. And of course, they carve out all kinds of exceptions to this virus victory strategy such as when you eat, give speeches, are six feet apart, or in the company of your blood relatives or sexual partners.
So, I won’t go to that parish anymore. I am not welcome there. I won’t force myself on others. They can make up their own mind about how to live.
We have continued to attend a neighboring parish where 99.5% do not wear masks. Everyone receives Holy Communion on the tongue on their knees at a Communion Rail from the hand of a priest who also does not wear a mask. People sit a respectful distance from each other but there is no insulting blue paper tape on the ends of the pews. The pastor thinks we are all smart enough to take care of ourselves. If we come, we know what we are there for and it isn’t to get a weekly affirmation from other mask wearers that we are obedient little minions to government control.
This is a link to a story about religious people in New York who are up to their gill slits with mandates and prohibitions that restrict and impair the rights of Americans to worship freely. Wearing a mask isn’t enough. The mayor of NYC and the governor of the state have put limits on the number who can enter at ten people. Any disobedience will get you a hefty fine to pay. It isn’t hard to figure out that they won’t be happy until people give up religion all together, stay home, and follow orders. This is one of the reasons why I have resisted mask wearing from the very start. Once you give in to oppression, it is harder and harder to fight back the next, and the next time they require you to do something.
I hope you will watch this video and if you are able, that you will broadcast it to a television for the benefit of a bigger screen. It is an hour and fifteen minute recording of a conference/meeting sponsored by Hillsdale College on this very issue---mask wearing, fear promotion, control, and the trampling of the Constitution. It will be the best hour you have spent in the last five months, I promise you. So give up one of your evening programs and watch this instead, or view it with a cup of coffee in hand one afternoon this week.
I heard from a friend in Glenview, Illinois, a suburb north of Chicago, that public school is closed again completely and has virtual learning only until further notice. Two students tested positive. TWO. My friend’s sons are in the eighth and twelfth grade and neither believes their pitiful excuse for an education is worth anything at all as long as this continues. And it will continue no matter how much we try to deny it. I haven’t made up my mind if we are in the boxcar or in the actual gas chamber (meaning no disregard to the very real suffering of the victims of the Third Reich as I use this painful imagery) We have walked into this situation quite willingly in most cases and with no thought whatsoever of the eventual outcome. We should have known at the end of the first 15 day cautious halt to normal life that we had a real problem on our hands by allowing it to continue. If not then, Easter, if not then, graduation, if not then, if not then, if not then. One wonders exactly how silent “Silent Night” will be this December 24.
God help us.