Monday, April 27, 2020

Prayer for an End to the Coronavirus / Covid19 Pandemic

St. Roch, Patron Saint against pandemics.

Here is a prayer to a patron saint against diseases and illnesses, in particular against epidemics such as the one we are currently experiencing (more information about the saint is found at the end):

O Blessed Saint Roch,
Patron of the sick,
Have pity on those
Who lie upon a bed of suffering.
Your power was so great
When you were in this world,
That by the sign of the Cross,
Many were healed of their diseases.
Now that you are in heaven,
Your power is not less.
Offer, then, to God
Our sighs and tears
And obtain for us that health we seek
Through Christ our Lord.
St. Roch was born with a birthmark of a cross on his chest. He became a powerful intercessor while on earth. He contracted the bubonic plague, as can be seen in his statue above. However, he survived with the help of a dog who would bring him food.

St. Roch's holiness started at a young age, when he would fast, along with his mother, twice a week, even while he was nursing.

He followed in the footsteps of St. Francis by giving away all of his earthly possessions to help the poor, which were left to him by his parents who died when he was only 20 years old.

Friday, April 24, 2020

Image may contain: 1 person, possible text that says 'Fr. Patrick Hyde, OP @frpatrickop Yesterday, I anointed someone dying from COVID19 His sheer joy when he recognized my voice was one of the most beautiful & powerful experiences of faith in my life. "Father, I'm so glad you're here. Now I can go in peace.' This is the power of the Sacraments & why I'm a priest.'

Tuesday, April 21, 2020

Governor Cuomo's Blasphemous Comments Addressed

Governor Andrew Cuomo of New York said some blasphemous comments which are addressed quite well by Bishop Robert Barron in his article. In it, he explains that God isn't just one of many causes, but he is the ultimate cause of all things and is "to be" itself. It's a great read. Check it out here.

Friday, April 17, 2020

What I do besides this blog. One thing is my Omega-3 business.

I know this isn't the usual topic, and feel free to skip this one if you are just interested in Catholic information. But I just wanted to do a quick shout-out to my online website called On this website, I primarily sell a product called Terra Nova Omega-3 Seal Oil capsules. Seal oil contains a very high level of omega-3 and is very good for your health.

Did you know: Catholics in Newfoundland were given permission to consume seal during Fridays of Lent as it was considered an aquatic animal and thus classified as a fish?

I just wanted to mention this business here on this website to let people know some of the things I do outside of this blog. I'm trying to really get my business off the ground, so I just wanted to take a minute to let my readers know about this site.

I am from Newfoundland, Canada and Atlantic harp seals are a very abundant species. In fact, in 6 million seals, there are about 10 seals for every person in our province! Seals are one of the best sources of omega-3 supplements. The reason is that they have already converted various other forms of omega-3 into a type that is readily available for use in the human diet. As a comparison, plant sources of omega-3 can only be used at a rate of about 10-15% by the human body as it comes in the form of ALA.

On the other hand, seal oil contains high levels of DHA, EPA, and DPA which are specific types of omega-3s and are vital in human health. We cannot create our own omega-3 compounds and so they must come from our diets. Unfortunately, most people's diets have a lot more omega-6 than omega-3. As a comparison, most diets have at least a 15:1 ratio of omega-6 to omega-3. Many have more, even as high as 50:1. It is recommended that at most our ratio be 4:1, and some even say 1:1 would be optimal.

Seal oil contains a reversed amount compared to the average diet, coming in at 1:7.5. That means for every 1 unit of omega-6, there are 7.5 units of omega-3.

Unfortunately, seal oil is not allowed to be sold in the United States. I think there is simply a general ban on all seal products. This is unfortunate because seals are harvested in a very humane and sustainable way. They are not farmed and live their entire lives in their natural environment and only adult seals are ever killed. Plus the number taken is such that their overall population will not decrease.

So if you are from Canada or from Asia, please check out my website at Place an order if you are interested. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

I appreciate you giving me this opportunity to talk a little about my business. I hope it was not too disruptive. I won't be posting a lot about at all. I may not post anything about it again. Please let me know if you are upset or unhappy with my decision to post this. Having said that, stay tuned for great Catholic content and thank you for being a loyal reader!

Thursday, April 16, 2020

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Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Catholic Confirmation During Coronavirus (Covid19) Pandemic

How to Keep the Faith Alive in Young Catholics After Confirmation

As the final article in this series wherein I look at the 7 sacraments and whether / how they can take place, I will be taking a look at the sacrament of Confirmation.

There are many considerations when it comes to confirmation that makes it unique compared to other sacraments. The sacrament is the outpouring of the Holy Spirit in a special way. It increases the gifts of the Holy Spirit (aka the Holy Ghost) which include wisdom, knowledge, right judgment, understanding, courage, piety, and fear of the Lord. The sacrament deepens ones connection with God and gives a more intimate relationship with Jesus Christ.

In most places in the world, the sacraments have been cancelled, including the sacrament of confirmation. My friend was going to receive the sacrament of confirmation this past Easter Vigil but it was cancelled. In fact, I was meant to be his sponsor. I was a little nervous to go ahead with it since I rarely leave the house. I am probably overreacting to the whole thing.

My friend found out his sponsor did not need to attend for the sacrament to take place. He contacted the archdiocese to see if there would be any way for it to go ahead but unfortunately they said it could not.

I understand the longing he has to be confirmed and receive the Holy Eucharist. It's not only him but also his girlfriend who are both looking to join the Church and this has become a great time of waiting. But I believe there is virtue and holiness in all of this just as God can bring holiness from any situation. We make situations holy by how we react to them. If we trust in God's providence, we can get through this. Perhaps it will ultimately lead to greater joy and closeness to God.

I trust the archbishops who have made this difficult decision. I do not feel people should put themselves at risk for these things. I think God protects his people, but we also cannot act foolishly. Jesus Christ himself said he would not jump off a tall building to test God and see if he would be caught.

Confirmation is a hands-on sacrament, literally. There isn't any way of going about it while having social distancing. Also, although it may be legal, as in the case of marriage, to have very few people present, is that ideal? Having a larger group can be edifying and really demonstrate the holy faith to others, something we need these days.

Therefore, overall, I would say trust God and his plan. Be humble and do not become angry. Realize that the desire for the sacraments is a holy desire and it comes from a place of Faith, Hope, and Charity, and this ought to bring great comfort for it means God loves you and wants what is best for you.

Have a great Easter everyone!

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

Good Friday is not the Same as Easter Sunday

Easter Sunday | Sara's Musings

I just wanted to quickly note something I've noticed over the past few days - people combining Good Friday and Easter as if they are the same thing. This is particularly true of politicians. I noticed it with President Trump. I like President Trump's speeches when it comes to Catholic feast days. He has definitely done a lot more than other presidents and our own Prime Minister. He doesn't just mention the name of the holy day and then go on talking about something else, he actually delves into quite a bit. He's not afraid to talk about "Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ" and that he is a Christian which is refreshing. He doesn't feel the need to qualify everything he is saying or give a shout out to everyone. At the same time if he were to recognize some other group, I wouldn't expect him to throw in random references to Christianity.

But one thing I did notice is that when speaking about Good Friday, he just kept going to Easter. Yes, the two are obviously connected and are really two ends of a single event. I understand that. But they are also opposites in a way. Jesus Christ is tortured, crucified and dies on the Cross. It is a very solemn and tragic day in the Christian calendar. He dies because of our sins. The Good Friday service is very solemn, dark, and sad. During Easter Vigil, we symbolically wait by the tomb in the cover of night, with just candles to light the way. This is because of what has happened to our savior.

On the other hand, Easter is the greatest triumph in the Christian calendar. The greatest day of celebration and joy. Really the total opposite of Good Friday. Our sins are forgiven and Christ beckons us to "Go in peace!" That's why Easter is filled with bright and happy colours, joy and celebration.

In Trump's speech, when speaking about Good Friday, he did make reference to it being solemn, but when speaking off the cuff, he just immediately would equate it with Easter. I think a distinction needs to be made. In the case of Justin Trudeau, the prime minister of Canada, I'm really not sure what he said about Good Friday. Probably nothing at all. He may have made some random shout-out to Easter at some point. I will look it up, but I know he would never talk about his own faith (he's supposedly Catholic), or say anything meaningful or relevant. He would probably just use politician-speak and have a very generic message. But maybe I shouldn't assume that until I see it.

In any event, I think people need to be clear about the difference of Good Friday and Easter. We have to embrace both just as our lives are not only filled with joy and happiness but also difficult times. But in both, we know that we do not have a God that cannot relate but one who became incarnate so that he suffered more than anyone else and can thus relate to our own suffering.

I hope you continue to have a joyful Easter!

Monday, April 13, 2020

Most Recent Research Confirms the Shroud of Turin is the Burial Cloth of...

Prayer, Scripture sustain faithful as they await delayed sacraments - Grandin Media

Article about my friend and his family who live in Alberta!

Prayer, Scripture sustain faithful as they await delayed sacraments - Grandin Media: The Easter Vigil was set to be the defining moment in Roomi Burney’s life. For two years he prepared for his baptism and confirmation into the Catholic Church, but that plan came to an abrupt halt. As a precaution against the coronavirus, all baptisms, confirmations, and first communions that would have taken place this spring

Fish & Chips: Christ without the Cross

In our modern-day world, most people only want the good stuff. When it comes to religion, most people in my area have abandoned their Christian faith and the only remnant that remains is their adherence to the "good stuff", by which I mean pleasurable aspects of religious celebrations. They probably are not even aware of where these traditions and celebrations come from.

I can give a few examples. One is the absolute madness with which people seek out Fish and Chips on Good Friday. It has become a major tradition. At popular fish and chips restaurants, there are hundreds of people lined up waiting perhaps a couple of hours to get their "feed" of fish and chips. It has simply become a tradition that is completely detached from its original meaning.

Catholics are asked to fast and abstain from flesh meat on Fridays of the year and in particular Good Friday. In fact, Good Friday is one of only 2 fast days mandated by the Catholic Church, at least in Canada. Because fish is not considered a flesh-meat, it can be consumed. But to ignore all of Lent and then on Good Friday have a huge feast of Fish and Chips completely misses the point! It is meant to be a penitential day, a day of reflection, a day where we remember the sacrifice of Christ on the cross and the agony he endured to bring about our salvation. It is not a time for festivities and joyous gatherings.

St. John of the Cross | Saint quotes catholic, Saint quotes ...In our local area, there was a lot of news about how people would get their fish and chips in the midst of a pandemic. Would places be open? How would people line up?

Perhaps people would have been better to stay home and practice some form of penance or fasting.

I'm not saying this from a place of pride, I'm simply showing how people have abandoned all the penance and have only embraced the pleasure. They want the resurrection without the crucifixion. They want the joy without the sorrow. They want Christ but not the Cross.

I, too often, have fallen into this myself. I seek out the easy way to do things, not the right way. But I have started to realize that the easy way doesn't lead to happiness. We are happy when we seek to do the will of God. I am not saying I am there yet, but I do recognize that fact.

Another example of this happening is things like Mardi Gras and even Carnival in some places. These events preceded Lent. Mardi Gras means Fat Tuesday and was a time when people used up all their animal products including fat, because these items are prohibited during Lent. Nowadays though, while many people celebrate Mardi Gras, few do much for Lent. Nothing much will happen until their perverse Good Friday and then Easter. Of course, Easter is highly publicized and celebrated, although again for the wrong reasons. Chocolate, candy, parties, etc. There's nothing wrong with that. In fact, I would encourage people to celebrate Easter in a cheerful and lively way. But it only really makes sense after going through Lent. Again, otherwise it's Christ without the Cross.

This year I undertook a program called Exodus 90, which is a 90-day instead of 40-day program that precedes Lent. I certainly wasn't perfect in my adherence to all the rules of the 90-day practice, and at the tail-end with the pandemic ongoing and my own issues, I kind of fell off the wagon to some degree. Things went better in the last few days during the Triduum.

If done correctly and ideally, Exodus-90 called for the foregoing of many pleasures in life. The rules included only being allowed cold showers, no alcohol, no snacking, no candy, sugar, or desserts, no TV, no sports, etc. It also included substantive prayer time each day, rising early each Saturday morning for a group meeting, and checking in with our "anchor" to monitor our progress and share our struggles. Plus, we are to do some form of intense exercise 3 times per week.

It was very challenging, and as mentioned, I did slip a few times. However, it was an overall good program. If done correctly, it brings great joy to Easter, but it also detaches us from our vices and sins and just general laziness. I have made amends to get up around 6:00 every morning. So far it hasn't been perfect, but it is MUCH better than before. I am also endeavoring to pray every morning.

Doing the program, although imperfectly, has really given me some valuable insight and I will use that as a springboard going forward.

Exodus-90 stands in great contrast to the way of life promoted in our modern-day secular world. One in which excess is barely enough. I think people would find great joy in experiencing both penance and joy, they go hand-in-hand.

I hope you're having a great Easter. God shows us that he loves us because although Lent is 40 days, Easter is 50 days until Pentecost. No matter what struggles we are going through right now, God is telling us that much more joy awaits us now (if we come close to Him) as well as in Heaven.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Prayer During the Corongavirus (Covid19) Pandemic

Read: Pope Francis's prayer to Mary during coronavirus pandemic ...

As usual, when something like a pandemic strikes, many non-believers will scornfully bash anyone who advocates prayer. They are so petty that even if a politician offers thoughts and prayers, they become upset and feel the need to voice their displeasure with this simple gesture.

I would like to talk a little about the purpose and effectiveness of prayer, and whether or not we should prayer in a time like this, i.e. during the Coronavirus (Covid19) pandemic.

In our modern world, we often have a sort of default materialistic attitude, even among believers. We view things through the lens of our temporal world. For example, when we think of prayer, we may think of gaining material possessions, or doing well on a test, or ending a pandemic. We see those types of things as our highest goals. I think part of this is due to the influence of our secular world on our thinking. Saints advise us that sin originates from three places: the world, the flesh, and the Devil. We are to be in the world but not of the world. Some go as far as to say we are to hate the world. This does not mean hating our neighbor or God, but rather putting the things of the world in its proper place which is well below God's proper place.

So the first thing to understand when it comes to prayer is the purpose of prayer, and more broadly our purpose in life. As a Christian people, we are not secular materialists. Rather, we are spiritual beings and our greatest good comes from having closer communion with God. It is part of our nature. God created us and as St. Augustine tells us, our hearts are restless until they rest in God.

Therefore, we must first get over the idea that the purpose of prayer is to achieve material or temporal success. I heard an excellent homily on the Sensus Fidelium Youtube channel where he discusses how to obtain anything through prayer. Much of what I will be saying in this blog post is inspired from this homily. You can find the video here.

In the talk, he says there are 3 conditions necessary for a prayer to be answered:

  1. Humility
  2. Confidence
  3. Perseverance
Humility, which is the opposite of pride, is probably the most important, and possibly rarest, virtue. It seems, for example, that those who bash prayer and its effectiveness are full of pride. Even if God were to grant their prayer, they would either not attribute it to God or they would just see him as a sort of cosmic slot machine. Put your coin in and you get a big payout. Repeat.

That's also how they deride believers. They mock God, just like some of the people at the foot of the cross. "Save yourself if you're really the son of God!" "Where's God now!" They demand that God obey their demands, and when he doesn't they act indignant, as if they were owed something from the Creator of the Universe. Obviously with such an attitude of entitlement and lack of humility, prayer will rarely be answered.

The second condition for effective prayer is confidence. We must believe that God can and will provide what we need in life, that he loves us and is there for us. St. Terese of Lisieux wanted always to be like a child in the eyes of God. She said as a child we believe our father can do anything. He will always be there for us and will never let us down. She said that's how we must be with God now as adults. Jesus Christ himself told us that unless we are like little children, we cannot enter the Kingdom of God.

The confidence of a child is what we must have in order for our prayers to be answered. We must trust that God loves us and does everything for our good. Sometimes a situation may seem hopeless, but with the trust of a child, we never lose hope. God will bring good from any evil if we allow him and fervently prayer for him to do so.

The third condition for prayer to be answered is perseverance. This is closely related to confidence. The example given in the video I linked is that found in a parable given by Jesus in which a man continually asks for bread from another man who is at first reluctant to provide it since he is already in bed and the door is locked. But the man who wants bread persists, and simply out of annoyance, the man in the house provides him bread. Jesus asks how much more will our Heavenly Father provide for our needs since he loves us more than we love ourselves?

Back to prayer and this pandemic. If we have all three of these characteristics when praying, we will find great advancement in the spiritual life. We will be given everything we could possibly ever need and become holier and closer to God. This is what we truly need. But God operates in other ways as well. He does provide miracles as has been shown countless times throughout history. He can help us with our material as well as spiritual needs. But we cannot approach him with an attitude of testing him or of pride. This attitude will only move us further from God, not closer.

I once heard a very interesting concept which was that if we were all holy saints on Earth, none of the earthly, material issues would be of any concern to us. We would offer up our sufferings to join more fully in the suffering of Christ who redeemed the world. We would not fear death and we would live joyfully. This is what God wants for us. We cannot reject the spiritual completely and just make materialistic demands on God. He would not provide that for us as it will only push us further away from him.

If you have anything to add, please do so in the comment section below. I really love hearing from you!

Friday, April 10, 2020

GOOD FRIDAY PRAYER: President Trump Blessings At The White House

Where can I attend a Catholic Good Friday Service this year during the Coronavirus (Covid19) Pandemic?

Editorial: Real 'Easter People' will stay home | National Catholic ...

Many people are wondering if they can attend Good Friday services or related Church services such as Holy Thursday Mass or the Mass on Easter Sunday in person? The answer is that almost everywhere these events are being cancelled, churches are closed, etc. There is one slight possibility to attend a service in person. Wait till the end for that.

In the United States for example, almost all churches are closed. Some non-Catholic churches have tried to hold services and many were in violation of rules surrounding social distancing. They were sometimes visited by police to have the services shut down.

In Canada, pretty much all Catholic churches are closed during this time.

Some governors of the United States, for example Greg Abbott of Texas,  have declared Church services to be "essential" along with grocery stores and doctors' offices. Despite this however, both archdiocese in Texas - Galveston-Houston, and the Archdiocese of San Antonio have cancelled all Catholic services throughout the state.

I am not familiar with any place that is having regular Catholic church services. Some places have been innovating though, for example having drive-in Masses and using innovative ways to give confession.

There is one [weird trick]  possible solution to attending Mass in person. Maybe more than one possibility, but here it is. If you ever watch a live stream of a Mass or other church service, you may notice there is sometimes another person or people there. For example, I watched Fr. Mike Schmitz last night for Holy Thursday Mass and there were two other people there for the readings. They even received communion.

Even our live stream we have here in St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada, there are individuals who read or sing, etc. for the priest. If you know a priest personally, you may be able to participate in this way.

I have heard some other "rumours" of people attending sort of clandestine services. Taylor Marshall mentioned on his podcast that he had attended a Mass in a barn. He did not disclose any specific detail. He said they took extra precautions and people were made to sit at least 6 feet apart.

A friend of mine mentioned attending a Mass service, but again indicated it wasn't publicized and was a private event.

There are some interesting possibilities there that some people have the ability to explore. But for the most part, unfortunately, Mass and other Catholic church services are cancelled around the world.

Ideas to Celebrate Good Friday During the Coronavirus (Covid19)

Crucifixion (Titian) - Wikipedia

We are in an unusual time for the Church. Most of us as faithful Catholics cannot partake in the sacraments during this most holy time because of the Covid19 pandemic. In fact, the most holy days of the Church are currently occurring. Jesus Christ gave himself fully on the cross, a sacrifice in atonement for our sins. From this sacrifice, all graces of God flow, just as the blood of Christ flowed on the Good Friday where he was crucified.

For Christians, and specifically Catholics, this is the most holy time of the year. Jesus Christ dies and will rise again in 3 days. It is the central mystery of the entire Christian faith. Sadly, we cannot celebrate these holy days as we normally would: gathered together with other faithful during the Good Friday service as well as other events within the Church.

So what can we do in a time like this? How can we join ourselves more closely with Christ's suffering, death, and ultimate resurrection? I can share a few ideas. I highly encourage anyone who may have other ideas to share them in the comments section.

Good Friday Service
Good Friday Service (which is not a Mass since the Holy Eucharist is not consecrated) traditionally occurs at 3:00pm which is the time that Jesus gave up his spirit on the cross. If you are able, I would strongly recommend tuning in to a live broadcast of a Good Friday service wherever you are in the world. There are many available online. One that I have been watching has been Fr. Mike Schmitz who broadcasts various services from his personal chapel. I get a lot out of his powerful talks.

Here is a link to his channel (Ascension Presents). There you can find upcoming programming.

Many local churches are also broadcasting at this time. In my own area, there are probably a half dozen churches doing such broadcasts, and this is not to mention broadcasts from priests' private chapels.

Stations of the Cross
Another Traditional observance by Catholics is the Stations of the Cross during Good Friday. In it we remember the events that happened during the Trial of Jesus, his passion and finally his execution on the Cross. This can either be done with one's family, alone, or along with others on a live broadcast on the Internet. I am not sure of any particular service such as this available on Youtube or other platform at the moment, but I will definitely be looking for one tomorrow.

Other Observances
Of course, other traditional Catholic spiritual practices can be done during this time such as reciting the Rosary, praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy. Don't forget to practice silent prayer. Also, Good Friday is one of the most important fasting days of the Church's calendar. All Fridays are days of fasting and abstinence from meat, but in particular this is the case for Good Friday. Try to do something extra this year, particular in this climate of fear and uncertainty and inability to access the sacraments. At this moment, our prayers and fasting are more important than ever.

I wish you all a very holy Good Friday.

Please post your comments or ideas below. I look forward to hearing from you.

Thursday, April 09, 2020

Baptism During Coronavirus (Covid19)

Sacrament of Baptism | Catholic pictures, Catholic images, Catholic

Should people be baptized during this pandemic? What considerations should be made when considering the appropriateness of this? What other areas must be explored?

Baptism is the entry into the Body of Christ, the Church. It removes the stain of original sin as well as any personal sin and fills a person with God's Grace. It is necessary for salvation as Jesus Christ himself proclaims in many parts of the Bible. A person cannot receive any other sacrament from the Church unless and until they are baptized into the Church.

Since baptism is necessary for salvation, it is of utmost important to provide baptism to anyone who so chooses or to an infant belonging to Catholic parents. But during a pandemic, other considerations must be made.

My input into this situation are just my opinion and do not reflect the teaching of the Catholic Church. If you disagree with what I am saying or would like to point out anything, please feel free to do so in the comments section below.

I believe in the case of an infant being baptized, discretion must be used as to whether to proceed during the Coronavirus. I can't say a blanket statement of whether a baptism should or shouldn't go ahead at this time. If a baby is in danger of death or is in ill-health, a baptism, in my opinion, would be highly recommended. It would be irresponsible to forgo it in this circumstance.

However, if a baby is perfectly healthy and has no major issues, it may be best to wait to have the child baptized when everything is back to normal. But I think this is a prudential judgment. Again, depending on the parents, some may feel it would be good to have a child baptized as soon as possible by a priest even in the current situation. Of course, this would require a very small ceremony, and the priest may take certain precautions such as not touching the child.

So again, it's a matter of prudential judgment.

What about in the case of a child who is in danger of death? According to the Church, baptism can be administered by anyone in cases of emergency. They must simply have the requisite intention (i.e. intend what the Church does vis-a-vis baptism) and use the correct Trinitarian formula. If these conditions are met, the baptism is valid.

The coronavirus pandemic would not satisfy the condition of a child being in danger of death and thus allow emergency baptisms to be performed. That is because although there is a pandemic in general, a particular child may not be at risk of death whatsoever. The lack of availability of the sacrament of baptism throughout a particular diocese likewise does not satisfy the conditions for performing an emergency baptism.

The same rules would apply in the case of an adult seeking baptism, otherwise known as catechumen. Catechumen can normally foresee the date of their baptism well in advance. If something like this pandemic breaks out and sacraments by and large are cancelled, they will probably have to make new arrangements to be baptized at a later time. Again, as long as they are not in danger of death, they may want to hold off on being baptized.

As mentioned in previous blogs, although certainly not a prerequisite, if a person were to opt to partake in a sacrament such as baptism, confirmation, or marriage during a pandemic, it is highly likely there would be very few people in attendance. In some areas it would be illegal. Again, although this is not an impediment to the validity or licitness of the sacrament, it is still a consideration as these sacraments as meant to be celebrated by the community and not in private.

What are your thoughts? Sorry I did not have the definitive answer, but I think it's up to each person and family to decide in their own individual circumstances with the help of God to whom they should pray when discerning. I would tell people not to become discouraged or disobedient to proper authority.

Please provide your thoughts in the comment section below. Until next time!

Tuesday, April 07, 2020

Extreme Unction During Coronavirus (Last Rites)

A Proper Understanding of Extreme Unction - Fatima Center

In this time of pestilence (the Coronavirus aka Covid19), Catholics have been left wondering the best course of action and whether or not the sacraments will be available for their spiritual path. In the past several days, I have addressed many of the sacraments of the Church and I did a thorough explanation of whether or not particular sacraments ought to be offered in a general sense. If you haven't already, I recommend (of course I do) you take a look at those if you would like.

In terms of one's spiritual journey, no time could be more important than right before death. Our Catholic faith teaches that God is merciful and that a repentant sinner can be heaven-bound even if he confesses his sins at the last possible opportunity. Of course, there are conditions. It has to be a legitimate confession and contrition and determination to avoid those sins in the future. Also, according to our faith, depending on one's spiritual growth, upon death a person may require some purgation, or cleansing, of his soul which takes place in Purgatory.

In order to make the mercy of God as available as possible, one of the sacraments of the Church is extreme unction, also known as last rites. These involve the sacrament of penance wherein a dying person confesses his sins, prayers said for the person's soul, anointing of that person, and finally the reception of Holy Eucharist. The term "extreme unction" comes from the fact that unction is another word for the anointing oil, and it is "extreme" as in it is at one extreme (the end) of someone's life.

In the case of the dying person, if the Eucharist is their last on Earth, it goes by the name "viaticum" which comes from the Latin for "provision for the journey", which is exactly what it is. It is seen as the body, blood, soul, and divinity of Jesus Christ administered to a dying person which will accompany him into his life with Jesus Christ in heaven.

A person can theoretically receive the sacrament of last rites more than once, however, correctly understood, the sacrament is not meant to be generalized for people who are not in danger of death but are instead ill. The sacrament can be used for people who are mortally wounded (such as in battle), scheduled to be executed, or who are terminally ill and their death is imminent.

So, should the last rites be made available for the faithful during the outbreak of a viral contagion? I believe, if at all possible, that it should be. A person's eternal soul is something of great value. Eternity is forever and we cannot risk to have someone perish without the sacrament of confession. On top of that, they receive many graces and blessings from the ceremony of the last rites.

I believe there are many precautions a priest can take to protect himself while administering this most precious sacrament to a dying person. First of all, it is really only between the priest and the dying person. There does not need to be a large crowd surrounding the priest while he performs the ceremony. So people should maintain a safe distance away from the priest while he is giving the sacrament.

Secondly, the priest can use some personal safety procedures such as using a mask and/or gloves. Although this may not be ideal, given the circumstances, I believe it warranted. Plus, the efficaciousness of the sacrament is not affected by the presence of gloves or a mask. Therefore, there is no good reason to forgo these things.

Unless someone can bring up a valid reason as to why this should be allowed to occur, I believe every provision should be made to accommodate people in this extremely important time in their lives. With correct procedure, most pitfalls can be avoided, in my opinion.

I have been listening to an audio series on St. Charles Borromeo during an outbreak of the plague in the 1570s. He showed extraordinary courage in providing the sacraments to those afflicted by the plague at that time. He showed no regard for his own bodily safety and put himself at risk so that others could partake most fully in the grace that comes from Christ's sacrifice.

To illustrate the heroic virtue of St. Charles and his followers, in a book there is a powerful example of a man wishing to partake of Viaticum prior to death and what a priest did to make this a reality. Here is the excerpt (from the book Life of Saint Charles Borromeo
By John Peter Giussano, Aeterna Press):

A noble action which occurred at this time is worthy of record. The dead bodies carried out from the hospital of St. Gregory during the night were thrown into a public burying-ground adjoining, called the Foppone, in order to be ready for interment the following morning. On one occasion a poor wretch, not quite dead, had been cast out with the rest amidst a heap of putrefying bodies. Early in the morning the priest of St. Gregory's was passing that way to take the Holy Viaticum to some dying persons. At the sound of the bell, the poor creature raised himself upon his knees amidst the heaps of corpses, and turning towards the priest, exclaimed, "0 my father, for the love of God suffer me to receive the Holy Sacrament once more!" The priest did not hesitate for a moment but hastened to give the poor man the consolation he so ardently desired. After receiving his Saviour he laid himself down again, and a few minutes later he was called away with every reason to hope for a favourable judgment from Him with Whom he had united himself on earth. This action edifying in the dying man for his longing for the Bread of Angels, and in the priest for his charity amid so many plague-stricken corpses, was told from mouth to mouth and thought worthy of record by St. Charles himself in his little book called "A Remembrance for his Beloved People." 
To hear the full story, please go here and there is a multi-part series on Youtube.

Thank you for joining me with my exploration of this topic. Please feel free to add a comment below, it would really help me out. If you completely disagree, that's fine! Discussion is welcome. God bless.

Monday, April 06, 2020

Morality of Price Gouging from a Catholic Perspective

Intuit Increasing Price for Payroll Products ...

There has been a lot of discussion recently about the morality of price gouging. I mean it's not really a discussion as such. Pretty much everyone is on the same page. Price gouging is highly immoral and should definitely be illegal. Even people who disagree on most other areas of morality are united in their opposition to this phenomenon. But is price gouging always immoral? Can it possibly be defended?

Well I'm about to try. I am one of the few people who is actually in favor of price gouging, and I will explain why. As mentioned, this is a very emotional issue. We imagine poor, innocent people just trying their best to be safe during something like this pandemic only to have greedy, ruthless business owners take advantage of them to make a quick buck. It seems totally disgusting and obscene. How dare these companies, or sometimes individual hoarders, take advantage of people in a time of crisis like this one - i.e. during the Coronavirus Covid19 situation.

That's how price gouging is presented. But I want to just step back and look at it from a different angle, one, that I believe, represents logic and reason, as opposed to emotion.

First, it is important to understand how our capitalist system works vis-a-vis pricing. Many people falsely believe that the price of goods and services is a very simple proposition. Perhaps prices are determined by the cost to produce something + some fixed markup to arrive at a final price. Of course, this system cannot work because who will define all the variables? Who defines how much to pay individuals involved in the production of a good for example? Do we pay everyone the same amount? How do we determine which activities in the economy take precedence? I.e. do we need 1000 tons of iron and 100 tons of bronze? Or is it 100 tons of iron and 1000 tons of bronze?

The Soviet Union attempted to set the price of all goods and services in the economy. They literally drafted up an enormous document, or series of documents, which gave the exact price for various things. I seem to remember there were something like 3 million individual items on the list, each with a particular price. What was the result of this? Well, it was a total disaster. Many products were vastly overproduced while for others there was a massive shortage. No matter how much they tweaked the list, they could not get things right. It could not be centrally planned.

Well if that's all true, how ARE prices determined in our modern-day society. Essentially they are determined the variables of supply and demand. Most people have heard of this concept. Where the two lines intersect, that is the most effective price in the market. It's as simple as that. If one prices above the equilibrium point, they will overproduce and undersell. If they price below the equilibrium point, there will shortages. The further below the equilibrium point the price actually is, the more shortage there will be.

It's really that simple. Prices aren't inherent in a particular item. There's a joke about selling ice to an eskimo. It's a joke because it would seem nearly impossible to sell ice to an eskimo when there are millions of tons of ice all around him. Yet, in some places, ice sells for a very premium price. It's the same situation for all kinds of items.

Back to the supply-demand graph. If, all of a sudden, the demand for a particular item shoots up, then according to the graph, the price should also increase. If the price does not increase, the demand will be far greater than the supply and there will be a serious shortage. Prices must adjust or this will always happen.

This is precisely what we are seeing unfolding now during this pandemic. A few companies tried to sell highly sought-after items for a higher price. People reacted very strongly and in some places, the government made it illegal to increase prices during a crisis. They labelled it price gouging. In actual fact, it was not gouging, but reacting to the market. And the very predictable reaction was that there was a massive shortage of many items. Do people think this is preferable?

That is not a rhetorical question. I wonder: if people were presented with the following situation, how would they react?

There are 1500 units of hand sanitizer available and 1000 people want them. The normal price is $3 per unit.

Would you rather the company:

A) Continue offering the product for $3 per unit and thus the first 100 customers buy an average of 15 units each, and leave 900 customers with nothing.

B) Increase the price to $10 per unit. Few people would buy more than 2 units because of the very high price, plus they would not be able to resell them for a profit on the black market. Therefore, with everyone buying 1 or 2, most or all people would receive hand sanitizer.

Most people presented with this true-life scenario would refuse to answer the question. They would simply bemoan the fact that anyone would buy more than 2 units. They would say people should share or care more about others, etc. There would be a lot of sentimentality and emotional appeals. But unfortunately that is not the reality of the situation.

They would either respond by saying that or just creating some alternate reality where production of these goods just magically increases or people are more generous or whatever the case may be. But again, they are not dealing with reality, they are dealing with ideals.

Limiting Quantities
Another response I've heard from many people is the idea that companies should simply limit the number of units each person can purchase. Many companies have used this approach. But there are several problems with this.

1) There are many things people can do to get around quantity limits. One individual can revisit the same store multiple times throughout the day. Perhaps on one visit he could go to a particular cashier and then on another visit, go to a different person. Or he could use self-checkout. Also, he could visit multiple locations, etc.

2) Another issue is that by limiting the price of a good, you can never increase the attractiveness of a particular market. For example, right now home delivery is very popular especially for things such as groceries. Companies are offering a lot of money and premiums to get people to work for them delivering groceries and to do food delivery. The demand went up and the higher price for labour is attracting more workers, which is a good thing.

In the case of essential goods, let's go back to the hand sanitizer situation. At the normal price, there is no incentive for companies to increase production or for other companies that do not normally manufacture hand sanitizers to enter the market. However, if the profit potential increased dramatically, many new companies would emerge specifically to fill the demand. This is simply what happens and there are many examples of this.

Also, if a particular good is available in a distant area, perhaps another city, province, state, or coutry. Normally there is no incentive to transport a particular good over a very long distance. However, at the higher price, people are willing to travel far to sell their goods.

The list goes on as to the advantages. What we know for certain is that without allowing prices to increase as they naturally do, no one is better off.

Prices Eventually Drop
The mechanisms I have described are only temporary. Yes, at the beginning, highly sought-after goods increase dramatically in price, which is a good thing, because it signals to the market that a lot of a particular good is needed. So, companies get on the bandwagon to produce as much as possible. A term you will frequently hear is that profits convey information. High profits indicate to others that they should enter the market, that there is a lot of opportunity there.

Because so many new entities are entering the market, the supply dramatically goes up. Then what happens? You guessed it, the price drops. That way, the price goes down and the supply goes up. Isn't this exactly what people wanted in the first place?

We have to let the market work. If we do, eventually we get enough supply and people in general are better off. The price of particular goods is already determined by the market. By artificially keeping prices too high or too low, you are creating a sub-optimal scenario. In a time of crisis, the market needs to work its magic more than ever to ensure people get what they need.

Price "gouging" is simply a pejorative term used to shame companies for simply listening to the market, which they do at all times for all other products. Somehow though when the market indicates prices should increase, they should suddenly stop listening? That makes no sense. To me, not only are price increases moral from a Catholic perspective, they are obligatory. Not listening to the market may score you brownie points from economically-uneducated Do-Gooders, but it hurts the majority of people. One should use logic and reason in this situation, not emotion. Although it may seem unseemly for a company to increase prices on essential goods during a crisis, in the long-run, everyone is better off because of it.

I encourage you to post any comments you may have below!

Sunday, April 05, 2020

Catholic Communion During Coronavirus: Revisited

A few days ago, I wrote an article concerning the reception of communion in Catholic churches during this time of pandemic associated with Covid19 and Coronavirus. I just wanted to post some updates and tweaks in my stance on this. It may evolve further as time goes on but I wanted to just take a moment to offer some clarification on it.

Many of my Catholic brethren have expressed disagreement with dioceses around the world banning the sacraments altogether. I have since looked into the ideas of some people concerning making Mass available while also addressing concerns around the pandemic. I believe some of these ideas were rather innovative, just as I mentioned some innovative ideas surrounding the sacrament of reconciliation.

Sunday Obligation
One of my concerns was that by making Mass available, the bishop would be creating an obligation to attend Mass under the pain of mortal sin. A proponent of offering Mass said the dispensation to attend Mass could be continued while not having an outright ban. People could choose for themselves if they would like to go.

People mentioned that civil authorities had not banned other activities such as grocery store shopping and therefore, why should churches be shut down. In other words, "If I can go get a mini fridge at Canadian Tire, why can't I receive Jesus Christ in the Eucharist?" This is a valid point. My rejoinder to this line of reasoning is that Canadian Tire is optional whereas Mass is ordinarily not. This seems to be addressed by making Mass optional as it were.

I do still wonder about the risk of this. I mean I also wonder about the risk of going grocery shopping. Just because one risky activity is allowed does not mean that all risky activities should be allowed. I think people have different tolerance levels when it comes to risk. I am personally very risk-averse in this pandemic. I do not like to even go outside for a walk. I become very nervous about it. On the other hand, other people are casually going to the store without a worry in the world. I wonder if people who are very risk averse would have no qualms about missing Mass if it were not obligatory or would some still feel "pressured" to attend despite their discomfort. To ignore people who feel this way, I believe, would be somewhat cruel.

Packed Churches
Another concern I had was imaging normal crowds of people attending Mass during this outbreak. Most places can now not have more than 10 people in a particular area and we are obliged to be at least 6 feet apart. This is based on expert advice. So when I imagine a church with Sunday attendance, I wonder how this could possibly work given these guidelines. Again there may be innovative solutions to solve this. For example, if you had a church like our basilica in St. John's Newfoundland, you could have one person (or people who live together) per section and every other section (or 2) would be blocked off. There would be a maximum number of attendees during a particular Mass.

Another option would be to have a Mass outside the church with the altar being under some kind of canopy. The faithful could park outside as they would in a drive-in theatre.

Reception of Communion
There has been some discussion about how one would go about receiving communion in such a pandemic. Many suggestions have been made. I am not sure if I am convinced by any of them. Some say that reception on the tongue is much safer than reception on the hand. However, in this time, I am not sure how either is "safe". This is one that would require some exploration. Some have suggested the priest "sanitize" his hands after each time he gives communion. Is this possible? I am not sure. Will it work? Again, I am not sure.

I may be wrong, but I am afraid some may be using this as an opportunity to compare their faith and regliousness to that of others in an uncharitable way. "I advocate lots of Masses regardless of the risk, therefore I am more serious about my faith!" I think exposing people to a high degree of risk is not charitable at all, but the opposite. There is a difference between prudence and heroic virtue. I'm not saying that those advocating a cavalier attitude are more virtuous, but people willing to risk themselves may be displaying virtue. For example, going into a dangerous area to offer comfort, or if one were a priest, to offer the sacraments, could be a sign of great love and charity. Simply demanding that others put themselves at risk is not charitable.

An Example
I have been listening to a very amazing audio series on Youtube about St. Charles Borromeo and the plague. He displayed extraordinary virtue by putting himself at risk for the sake of his flock. He truly displayed great heroic virtue. He cared nothing for preserving his own life but only about the eternal salvation of his spiritual children. Many followed his example and ventured into the plague-striken areas of Milan to administer the sacraments with little regard to their own well-being. Miraculously, his followers who visited countless sick and destitute did not themselves contract the dreaded illness. It reminds me of Jesus Christ who said those who try to save their lives will lose it but those who give their lives for the Kingdom of God will gain it.

Overall I think this situation requires balance. Prudence means doing what is reasonable. Even in the time of the plague in the time of St. Charles, most Masses and the sacraments were cancelled. Were they completely stopped? Probably not, but even then there were measures taken to ensure the safety of Catholics. If safety can be ensured and people are given choices, I think the sacraments can be offered in limited ways as opposed to being outright banned.

Open to Ideas
Please feel free to contribute to this complex topic. I am open to reasonable ideas and am only advocating what I believe to be the best approach. Thank you for reading!

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Holy Orders During the Coronavirus (Covid19)

Holy orders - Wikipedia

This is the fourth blog in this 7-part series on the sacraments during a pandemic, specifically during this Coronavirus pandemic. We've already explored confession, the Eucharist, and matrimony. There are four sacraments left to go. Today we explore Holy Orders.

Holy Orders are the means by which men become deacons, priests, and bishops within the Catholic Church, and it must be in that order. These are the three types of ordained men in the Church and although some men have different titles, such as Monsignor, Archbishop, Nuncio, or even Pope, they are all still one of the three main types.

Jesus Christ and Saint Paul recommend men to remain celibate and to seek after the things of Our Lord. Jesus Christ tells those who can, to give up marriage and follow him. Although marriage is considered a good and a sacrament, and thus a path to salvation, receiving holy orders and becoming a priest is considered a higher good in the Church.

It is also important to note that the sacraments come through priests who act as Alter Christi meaning Jesus Christ acts through the priest. Therefore, it not the priest as a fallen individual who effects the sacraments but Jesus Christ from whom all sacraments flow. But because Jesus Christ effects the sacraments through the priests, priests are absolutely essential in the life of the Church.

As mentioned earlier, the sacraments come from the Sacrifice on Calvary which is made present at the altar during each Mass. But the particular means by which the sacraments come to be efficacious is through the priest. Without priests, there are no sacraments. Their importance cannot be understated.

Does this absolute necessity of having priests for the sacraments and thus to continue the Church on earth specifically mean ordinations must occur continuously even in the face of threats? I think we must take a prudent view of this. As mentioned in a previous post about matrimony, although ordination is a good and one of the highest goods, it is not absolute essentially that they be carried out at all times. According to ---, there are currently 414,582 priests in the world. Obviously this isn't a static number and is probably an estimate, although a very precise one. This particular statistic was created by Georgetown University. I'm not sure the exact method used to acquire such a precise number, but I suppose each diocese reports the number of priests, and then each country's conference of bishops compiles these and send this information to a central repository. Of course, religious orders would also do this. I can imagine a high amount of accuracy in this area.

In any event, it also notes that the number of priests is in decline overall. I am not sure the current trend but the number has gone from 419,728 in 1970 to 414,582 in 2017. Although these numbers are quite comparable, it is important to note that the number of people on earth, as well as the number of Catholics, in that same time frame has almost exactly doubled. Therefore, the number of priests per Catholic is half of what it used to be.

Having said all of this, and given the importance of priests overall, the urgency of immediately ordaining priests during an ongoing pandemic, seems minimal. Priestly ordinations should be large and festive events involving hundreds or thousands of people from the Catholic community. It is an edifying event which really shows the faith of the people and in particular of these men who follow this call from God. In a time of pandemic, very few people would likely attend. It would become an almost private event. The joy and splendor of what is taking place would be minimized.

Of course, theologically speaking, even if no one was there except the bishop to administer the sacrament, it would still be equally efficacious. I just believe it would lack much in the way of solemnity and importance within the community. On top of this, it could create negative feelings within the Catholic community and the region as a whole. The Catholic community may regret not being able to attend an ordination or feel they are being asked to put themselves at risk in order to do so. The community may perceive the actions of the Church as being callous and uncaring towards individuals. Obviously we do not do things for the approval of society at large which accepts many evils. But the Church must always be a beacon of light and hope, not of scandal.

Overall, in my humble opinion, ordinations to the priesthood ought not take place when most people are quarantined or self-isolating due to a pandemic such as Covid19. Please provide your feedback and comments below! Join me tomorrow as I discuss my thoughts on another sacrament!

Friday, April 03, 2020

Catholic Marriage During Coronavirus

Catholic Marriage During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Catholic Wedding | Bride + Groom | Nuptial Latin Mass | Exchange ...

Holy Matrimony is one of the seven sacraments of the Catholic Church. It joins a man and a woman in a lifelong conjugal union for the purpose of procreation and the spiritual growth of each other. Marriage is considered a vocation in the Church and is a path to holiness. Many saints speak of the ability of marriage to sanctify people.

Catholics are told to enter marriage with the idea of given fully of themselves to their spouse. This means practicing mortification, patience, and various other physical and spiritual penances for the sake of the other. I feel men are particularly called to sacrifice themselves as Christ sacrificed himself for his body the Church. We cannot enter into marriage with the idea that we will be served by the other person and that all our desires must be fulfilled. In fact, it is quite the opposite.

As mentioned the Church holds up marriage as the highest ideal of intimate relationships between men and women. Jesus Christ changed it from a natural institution to a sacrament, meaning through marriage we receive Grace from God. Therefore, it is easy to see the high importance of marriage to Catholics.

With this in mind, would the Church allow a man and a woman to marry in our current world which is experiencing a massive, global pandemic?

The answer is quite frankly no. Marriage may be a great good, a holy sacrament, and a vocation but it is not essential to the spiritual life. Not marrying will not prevent a person from receiving God's grace or from becoming holy. Therefore, although marriage is a good, it is not a requirement.

Typical marriages go far beyond the bare minimum requirements for legality within the Church, which includes having a priest involved plus 2 witnesses. Indeed, for the most part, the bride and groom have 3-5 people standing for them on each side. The wedding reception involves hundreds of people usually. That's not to mention the dozens of workers.

During the Coronavirus (Covid19), a gathering such as this would probably be illegal at best, and probably quite immoral. Why? Because you are putting MANY people at risk. Many people in fact, far beyond the number of guests attending. If for example, there are 200 guests, and each of those guests interact with an average of 5 people outside the wedding in the following week, and each of THOSE 5 people interact with 5 more the week after, within 2 weeks from the wedding, there would be 5000 connections. If one or more of those people had come into contact with the virus, well you get the picture.

Therefore, in my opinion, it would be very imprudent to have a wedding during the Coronavirus. It is sad that many people have had to cancel their weddings during the early part of this wedding season due to this pandemic. But we must consider other people when making plans.

Thursday, April 02, 2020

Catholic Communion During Coronavirus

Communion During Coronavirus (Covid19)

Altar Rails Facilitate Holy Communion

This is the second of 7 articles outlining how the Church ought to react vis-a-vis the sacraments during a time such as this, i.e. a worldwide pandemic. Should sacraments be offered? If so, how? What is the Church's responsibility and what is the most prudent way to act in these times.

Today we look at the Blessed Sacrament - i.e. the Eucharist i.e. Communion. Should communion be offered during this time?

First we must note the high importance that is placed on the Eucharist within the Church. The Catholic teaches that the Holy Eucharist is the true body, blood, soul and divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ. We do not believe it is a symbol, nor do we believe the Eucharist has only spiritual significance. We believe that besides appearance to our senses, the Eucharist is truly transformed during the celebration of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

So what is the Mass? Well the Mass is when this re-presentation of the Sacrifice of Jesus Christ takes place at the altar. The Sacrifice of Jesus Christ is the source from which all the sacraments flow which is why the Church calls the Eucharist the source and summit of the Christian life. Without the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, all the other sacraments would be ineffective and essentially not even exist.

So, needless to say, the Eucharist is of utmost importance when it comes to our faith. Therefore, if I advocate that at least one sacrament be offered the first would be the Eucharist. And since I already said that confession ought to be offered, although perhaps in innovative ways, I must automatically advocate for the offering of the Eucharist as well since it is uniquely the source and summit of our faith, right?

However, this is not necessarily the case. A few things must be considered. First of all, although the importance of the Eucharist cannot be understated, this does not necessarily mean that all must receive this sacrament on a regular basis. It is not a requirement for salvation that one receive the Eucharist every week. In fact, when we speak of our Sunday obligation, we do not mean that everyone is obligated to receive the Eucharist during the Mass on Sunday every week or else commit a grave sin. Rather, the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation refers only to attendance at Mass, i.e. participation. Participation does not necessarily mean partaking in communion.

In our modern Catholic world, one would be forgiven for believing that reception of Holy Communion is an absolute requirement for all attendees at Mass. At Mass nearly everyone receives the Eucharist every week. In fact, many do not realize that not doing this is even permissible. However, to even be allowed to receive the Eucharist, one must be a Catholic in the state of grace. Outside of this, no one is permitted.

As mentioned, the idea that communion is something all people must partake in at every Mass isn't something that has been universally held by all theologians and saints throughout history. In the olden days, when there was much less sin in the world, people had to be encouraged in a variety of ways to receive communion. The Church even made a rule stating that Catholics must receive at least once per year. Remember, this is a separate requirement from our requirement to attend Mass every single week at least.

There is an interesting history in the Catholic Encyclopedia which describes the frequently of reception of the Eucharist down through the ages. In the Early Church, some people participated in frequent reception, which others less so. The article, found here, describes how communion was received fairly frequently, perhaps once a week or more, up until the time of Charlemagne. In the middle ages, the articles describes how Communion became very infrequent. So much so that the 4th Lateran Council compelled the faithful, under threat of excommunication, to receive communion at least once per year.

The article describes how various religious orders and various saints received at different frequencies. Some as few as thrice a year, while others communicated much more often.

As we can see, reception of communion every week has not always been the norm and many holy saints were reluctant to frequently receive the Blessed Sacrament. On the other hand, many theologians recommended frequent reception including Thomas Aquinas. The Council of Trent speaks against very infrequent reception (specifically citing 3 times per year), but goes on to say whether communion ought to be received monthly, weekly, or daily will not be subject to a universal rule.

My point in going into all of this detail is basically to explain that while perhaps desirable, the reception of the Eucharist is not a mandatory action that must be undertaken weekly.

Given this fact, it would seem prudent that communion be limited or stopped during this time of pandemic if that means keeping people safe from a potentially very dangerous virus. Of course, our spiritual well-being is much more important that our physical well-being or safety. However, when possible, we must safeguard our bodies as well as our souls. We are not a dualistic religion, we believe in the importance of body and soul.

Finally, during these difficult times, we can remain a spiritual and Eucharistic people. We can watch the Mass on television and make a spiritual communion. Also many churches have once again been very innovative. Some have offered drive-in adoration. The monstrance (aka ostentorium) is on display either outside or behind a window, and people spend time before our Eucharistic Lord while maintaining a minimum distance.

Take care of one another during these difficult times and hopefully we will get back to full access to the Sacraments very soon. God Bless.

Wednesday, April 01, 2020

Confession During the Coronavirus

The Seven Sacraments During the time of the Coronavirus
Today's Topic: Confession

On Janaury 20, 2020, the United States had its first confirmed case of the coronavirus. This dreadful disease originated in China, many believe from consuming an unusual animal such as a bat. Of note, bat is a prohibited animal to eat in the Old Testament in books such as Deuteronomy and Leviticus.

So the first case came to the US in January, but it wasn't until mid-March that churches really started closing in the US and Canada. That's only a couple of weeks ago. From most places, it seems like a very long time since this measure was enacted, but it really hasn't been.

The big concern many Catholics have had during this time is the availability of the sacraments. That's why I have devoted the next 7 topics on dealing with these issues. I will go through each of the 7 sacraments and discuss the issues surrounding them and how I feel it is best to deal with the threat of this virus.

So on the topic of confession. Confession is of vital important to faithful Catholics. During a good confession, a penitent is forgiven of the eternal punishment due to mortal sin, which is eternal suffering in hell and separation from God in heaven.

As you can imagine, therefore, making this sacrament available is of utmost importance. In fact, it is more important than merely earthly considerations. If one were to understand the true gravity of something like hell, the risk of illness or even death would be minor in comparison.

Therefore in my perspective, confession should not be totally cancelled no matter how grave the threat of disease is. Therefore, during this time of coronavirus, I believe for the spiritual well-being of Catholics around the world, confession should be made available to those who need it.

Having said this does not remove the necessity to practice caution in how the sacrament is offered. Placing people in harm's way, by for example, having dozens of people wait in crowded lines to receive the sacrament, could put them in excess and unnecessary risk. This would be immoral. So what is the solution?

Thankfully many priests around the world have considered the risks and the necessity of having confession and have come up with very ingenious ways of offering reconciliation to parishioners. A priest in Maryland, Fr. Scott Holmer, of St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church, was one of the first priests in the United States to offer confession in a sort of Drive Through fashion.

Parishioners wait in their car for the car ahead of them. Once the car ahead is done, they drive up and the priest is waiting. He is wearing a blindfold so that he can maintain the anonymity of the confessional. As this is optional, I assume the penitent could ask him to remove the covering. So the person confesses his sins and drives away after receiving absolution.

In this case, risk is minimized while offering an invaluable service to the people.

Some might ask why an in-person confession is required. Couldn't it be done over the phone or maybe even webcam? The answer is no. And I am personally glad of this fact. As we know in the Church often an exception will become the norm. Once something is allowed, even if discouraged, it tends to grow more and more. And I believe that would be very detrimental to the sacrament. It would become a lot less personal, a lot less close. It would become rather transactional, and "convenient". The purpose of confession is to receive forgiveness of sin which ultimately comes from Jesus Christ himself as the second person of the Trinity who acts within the priest who is an Alter Christus.

The closeness and proximity are integral parts of the confession which takes place and I believe they must be preserved. Part of the experience is being in the presence of the priest which is normally in a Church. There is a physical aspect to it because we are physical beings. It is similar to when Jesus Christ would forgive people of their sins in person.

One more point I would like to address is that of a mass confession. No, not a confession which occurs during the Sacrifice of the Mass, but a group confession of many people. It is officially called a general absolution.

The Code of Canon Law has this to say about General Absolution and its permitted use:

Can.  961 §1. Absolution cannot be imparted in a general manner to many penitents at once without previous individual confession unless:
1/ danger of death is imminent and there is insufficient time for the priest or priests to hear the confessions of the individual penitents;
2/ there is grave necessity, that is, when in view of the number of penitents, there are not enough confessors available to hear the confessions of individuals properly within a suitable period of time in such a way that the penitents are forced to be deprived for a long while of sacramental grace or holy communion through no fault of their own. Sufficient necessity is not considered to exist when confessors cannot be present due only to the large number of penitents such as can occur on some great feast or pilgrimage.
The only possible justification for general absolution during Coronavirus would be the second condition that priests would have insufficient time to hear the confession of a large number of people and that they would be deprived of the sacrament for an extended period of time. This would probably not work as a justification. The reason is that as of right now, it is not foreseen that all human interaction, even from a distance, will be completely prohibited. If, however, people were given 24 hours before all contact with others would be strictly forbidden, I could see the possibility of a general absolution being given.

It is important to note that it is not an absolute require that someone receive sacramental confession to receive absolution from their sins. A person having perfect contrition can be forgiven the eternal punishments due to sin by expressing sorrow directly to God. This is, however, premised on the idea that once given the opportunity, the person who received absolution in this manner, would avail of sacramental confession as soon as possible.

I hope this clarifies this question somewhat. If you would like add a comment or ask a question, please feel free to do so!