Faith in a time of Pandemic

Recently, in Sobriety in a Time of Pandemic I blogged a bit on coping in a time of a pandemic. Saints to intercede for us and so on. Now that it’s been a few days, I’m expanding upon that. This is the first of several posts I’ll be doing today. I just finished my Morning Prayers and had breakfast, and I have time before heading off to my Latin Mass. This afternoon I’ll write one or two more posts on the matter.

I’ve read a lot of stuff online, on Facebook and other venues, about what to do. People are panic-buying toilet paper and sanitizers, water and other foodstuffs. Various Dioceses are either cancelling public Masses or are lifting the obligation to attend Mass for a certain period. There are interesting reactions to these measures, some sane, some irrational.

Many are interpreting these cancelling/lifting of the obligation as a sure sign that the Bishops are in league with Satan and the Modernists; that the last thing we need to do is to restrict the Mass. They cite examples from the Medieval era during the Black Plague when Pope So-and-so did Eucharistic Processions around Rome and St. Michael the Archangel was invoked and he made appearances and miraculous healings resulted. “And that’s all that we have to do to defeat this pandemic! Go to Mass! It worked then!”

True. It probably did to some degree. But they also had significantly less knowledge of plague vectors and technological responses and the like. Note this: God only performs miracles when all normal means that we have at our disposal have failed. This may by why some prayers of yours invoking God’s miraculous help may have gone unanswered: perhaps you were omitting something you could have done. I think He may work the miraculous in your life when you might have effective means at your disposal, but you may not be aware of them, and the situation may be critical enough that He is willing to overlook your omission or ignorance. But whether that does happen, is determined by Him.

We do not live in the Middle Ages (although I wish for the revival of much Medieval culture and civilization; not all of its aspects, only the better parts. That will perhaps have to be discussed on my other blog sometime. 😉  ) We live in the 21st Century and our knowledge and ability to deal with things is different. While I applaud the faith of those who wish to rely solely on the Mass and the Sacraments; to exclude contemporary science and technology is folly. And perhaps a sin. “Really? How’s that?” you ask incredulously. “Read on,” I reply.

Faith and reason; science and religion are not antonyms. Miracles and such like work when mundane resources fail; back in the Medieval era they had little to no knowledge of disease vectors and their causes. We know better today, and therefore sacramental methods are applied differently nowadays. 

Science and religion go hand in hand, both are parts of God’s Revelation of Himself. God reveals Himself to us in two ways: through Divine Revelation by way of Sacred Scripture in concert with Sacred Tradition, both being safeguarded by the Catholic Church; and through Nature, as discerned and explored by humans utilizing Science. Like I said above: Faith and reason; science and religion are not antonyms. Truth does not contradict Truth, despite the opposite believed by atheists on one side and believers on the other. They only reveal the ignorance they possess of the other means of Divine Revelation that they reject. Like anyone who creates original work, God leaves information about Himself in His creations. We know Him by exploring His creation. Science helps us to do that. Using one does not de-emphasize the other.

When we know of the manner in which plagues spread and the means to contain it, that does not mean abandoning faith and religion, but it does mean we use our God-given intellects in a responsible manner and avoid spreading disease. It does not mean that we forsake Eucharistic Processions, invoking this or that saint, or anything else that may have worked back in simpler times. We do those. They may not work in the miraculous ways of 500 or more years ago, but they may assist in giving insight to vaccine researchers, given them a nudge to consider “this way” instead of “that way,” give extra courage and fortitude to medical professionals like doctors and nurses, and convey grace upon grace to all struggling to cope. So it’s not an “either or” choice. We do both. We flee to the refuge our Faith provides as well as using our God-given minds to respond to the crisis.

And this is where I answer the question about how is it sinful to disregard science in responding to the pandemic. If one of the definitions of sin is that of misusing or abusing our natural gifts (such as alcohol abuse instead of moderate drinking, or extramarital sex instead of chastity, or greed instead of responsible use of material things and money) then it is sinful to disregard the recommendations or outright orders to stay at home instead of going to Mass (or any other public gathering.) You are guilty of pride, in that you are parading your piety to defy rational consideration. “Nothing and no one will separate me from the Mass!!!” is what I frequently read in various Facebook Groups. OK, I understand that you have a devotion to the Mass; we all should. We all should attend Mass on Sundays (it IS an obligation) and daily if we can. If Jesus is available in an Adoration Chapel, we should visit Him. But your piety and faith should not get in the way of your reason and common sense; just as they do not contradict one another, when used together that can be an unstoppable force for good. God made us, He also gave us our intellect, our capacity for reason and logic, as well as the ability to figure out when to use them. They are gifts to us, a part of our being. To ignore them is to risk peril. You could also be guilty of idolatry. The Mass is a means (worship) to an end (God.) By being disobedient and insisting that you must attend Mass or else, you are idolizing the Mass, focusing on the means rather than the end.

“But what about the Mass?!?!?! We do need that!!!!” you vent.

“Relax,” I calmly respond. “It has not been prohibited. It is still being said. Even if public Masses are cancelled where you are, priests are still saying them privately. And public Masses are being offered elsewhere. We are members of the Mystical Body of Christ, we are united in prayer to everyone else who is praying, everyone else who is attending Mass. Unite yourself in prayer with them.”

“Oh? We can do that? How?”

Here are a few prayers to do just that. They are old, come from various sources, are found online anywhere and in old prayer books and missals dating prior to Vatican 2.

My favorite among them, and I say it daily:

Oh My Jesus, I include myself in all the Holy Masses which are being celebrated this day throughout the whole world, and offer them to You in union with the intentions of Your Sacred Heart. I implore You to reserve for me, from each Holy Mass, Your most precious Blood to atone for my sins and their punishment.

Grant me also the grace of obtaining through the merits of every holy sacrifice the release of one poor soul from the pains of purgatory, the conversion of one sinner, and that one soul in the agony of death may obtain mercy, and that one mortal sin, which is so painful to Your Sacred Heart, may be prevented.

Eternal Father, we offer You the Blood, the Passion, and the Death of Jesus Christ in satisfaction for our sins, in aid of the Holy Souls in Purgatory, for the needs of Holy Mother Church, and for the conversion of sinners. Amen.

Another:

Lord Jesus, I unite myself to Your perpetual, unceasing, universal Sacrifice. I offer myself to You every day of my life and every moment of every day, according to Your most holy and adorable Will. Since You have been the Victim of my salvation, I wish to be the victim of Your love. Accept my desire, take my offering, and graciously hear my prayer. Let me live for love of You; let me die for love of You; let my last heartbeat be an act of perfect love.

Here’s one more that I say daily:

O Jesus, through the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I offer you my prayers, works, joys and sufferings of this day in union with the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass throughout the world. I offer them for all the intentions of your Sacred Heart: the salvation of souls, the reparation for sin, and the reunion of all Christians. I offer them for the intentions of our bishops and of all Apostles of Prayer, and in particular for those recommended by our Holy Father this month. 

Regarding the latter, I sometimes omit the words “Apostles of Prayer,” and substitute “Knights and Ladies of the Militia of the Immaculata” and “Knights at the Foot of the Cross,” as I am a member of both the Militia of the Immaculata and their sister organization, Knights at the Foot of the Cross. If you are a member of some other Catholic apostolate, such as the Knights of Columbus, the Legion of Mary, or are Third Order Franciscan, Carmelite, etc., maybe use that instead (or along with.)

I’ll have another post later on regarding “Spiritual Communion,” which I’ve blogged about before and also there are numerous online resources for that. It’s getting late and I must shower and get dressed for Mass.

Oh, one other thing: you can also watch Mass online. It’s available streaming live and archived.  I’ll try and post links to online Masses later today, but EWTN and Live Mass are great. The EWTN one is a good, holy, Mass in the Ordinary Form, LiveMass is the Tridentine (Latin Mass) Rite.

Bye! I REALLY HAVE TO GO NOW!!!

 

Know someone, perhaps yourself, who might like Catholic devotionals for alcoholics? Please take a look at my books! "The Stations of the Cross for Alcoholics" and "The Recovery Rosary: Reflections for Alcoholics and Addicts" (Thank you!!)

Go outside to get outside! Sometimes I hang out with this permaculture community.