Office of Bishop Myron J. Cotta, D.D.
TO: The Diocese of Stockton
FROM: Bishop Myron J. Cotta
RE: See you at Church
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
As we enter the glorious season of Easter, let us re-engage and reconnect with the faith community which is our parishes. This is the perfect season to allow oneself to be renewed by the Easter Sacraments, especially, that of the Holy Eucharist.
Let us allow the light of the Risen Christ to transform our lives that have been hindered by the darkness and uncertainty of the pandemic. If one is not compromised by health concerns, this is the perfect time to rise above the virtual complacency which has creeped into our homes and has left some families unfulfilled. Instead of praying and participating in the Mass, it has led to watching Mass, which has tempted some Catholics to simply walk away from viewing the screen.
During the pandemic, we have been informed over and over again of what is, or is not, essential. No matter what has been said, that which the Church has to offer is essential! It is life giving! That which the Church offers has the capacity to encourage, heal and console as it offers hope to those who have been stretched to the limits by lockdowns, restrictions and fear. The Eucharistic Liturgy, the Mass, and the grace of the sacraments of Penance and the Anointing of the Sick are essential for the overall spiritual, psychological, emotional and physical well-being of the person.
As we are beginning to see a turning point in regard to the impact of the virus, it is now time for us to regroup, to step forward within this Easter season and allow ourselves to be renewed in spirit as we gather and encounter each other as the community of believers. And in the center of it all, is our encounter with the Risen Jesus, the Essential One!
So, my friends – be it inside or outside – see you at church! Happy Easter!
Let us rejoice and be glad!
He is risen.” “He is truly risen!!”
In the Peace of Christ,
Bishop Myron J. Cotta
The above comes from an April 8 letter from Bishop Cotta of the Diocese of Stockton.
With all respect to the Bishop, does this meet the secular health guidleines?
Do you think the bishop wants to have all of the congregations and their clergy killed by COVID (or anything else)?
He understands that God is “essential.”
Who (besides the Devil) wants people absent from Mass for years?
We believe in the Incarnation, in the Sacraments.
We don’t settle for TV preachers and prayers.
(Of course, those who cannot attend should pray along with the Mass live-streamed or on EWTN. But, that should never be the norm.)
As we, members of the Church, reflect on God’s Word in the Acts of the Apostles, remember how the Apostles and early disciples followed the “secular guidelines?”
The health guidelines for churches have been political and have now been revoked. California is also near herd immunity. In other words, the risk falls on the individual, which is where it should have always been.
The CDC now admits that the odds of contracting WuFlu from a Wuflu contaminated surface is 1 in 10,000.
The odds of being in a car accident are 1 in 5000. Odds of choking to death on food in 1 in 2500.
Why are you so afraid MikeM?
ok Keith: Yes, we know the odds of getting COVID from a surface are small. COVID is not, however, the flu. Masks and distancing do reduce the risk, but don’t eliminate it – proven by dozens of studies in places where there weren’t mask mandates, then there were, then they were lifted. Just look at Michigan right now. Why do you keep insisting people are “afraid”? Sounds like a bit of projection to me.
Having said all of that, I found the Bishop’s remarks very well balanced. He did emphasize the spiritual aspects as he saw them, and he was pretty even handed and responsibly balanced between indoor and outdoor Masses. And thankfully, if we keep vaccinating, ventilating, masking when possible, and outsiding we are getting closer and closer to the day when can put these measures behind us. But vaccinating is key to that, otherwise the virus will ravage the the unvaccinated. I really hope we get to a point very very soon where we won’t have to even think about it. Ordinary Time will be ordinary once again in 2021.
Hi MikeM Here is some more support data for you. Hope this helps in your fear.
Influenza cases in the USA, 2016-2021
2016-2017: 29 million
2017-2018: 45 million
2018-2019: 36 million
2019-2020: 38 million
2020-2021: 0.0015 million
Covid cases 2020-2021
I guess all that social distancing and maskes worked huh? NOT.
Covid is the flu.
All that destruction and loss including in the Church for the flu.
Safe to back to Mass now MikeM?
Unfortunately, facts like these won’t appeal to liberals, who don’t care about truth, or to those under the spell of Covidism, who are too hysterical to think straight.
Please explain this encounter with the risen Jesus. Describe the encounter. What do you see, hear, feel, experience? How is it known to be an encounter with Jesus, specifically, as opposed to an encounter with something else that is mistaken to be Jesus? The bishop speaks with such confidence and enthusiasm about this encounter (using an exclamation point!), so surely he must be able to describe it. I have been Catholic all my life and have experienced nothing that I could unequivocally call an encounter with the risen Jesus. Yes, yes… receiving Communion is a sacramental encounter of that sort but I don’t experience anything receiving Communion either, other than the texture and taste of a smooth, bland wafer in my mouth. So, please, some bishop or someone, explain what this encounter is and what the experience is. More and more it seems that faith is just a commitment to or a conviction about an idea, with no supporting experience such as is conveyed in the phrase “Encounter with the risen Jesus.” Does anyone have an encounter with algebra? No… it’s an idea system. But one does have an encounter with gravity every moment of existence. Where is the encounter with Jesus? What is it? As the world and church deteriorate, it becomes increasingly difficult to maintain faith in a mere idea disconnected from experience, since the idea that should have real-world benefits and experiential effects seems to have none, as if the system of Christianity has been a long-running meme that is being revealed to be hollow, not hallowed.
well, that explains a lot. It saddens me to hear someone who taught religion in a Catholic school to say that they never had an encounter with Jesus. Here is what I suggest, just say Hi to Him. Talk to him. Tell Him “Let’s go see what’s on CCD.” or “Going to the bathroom now.” Ask Him to give you the encounter that you have heard others talk about.
Also, the secret to sanctity. Do you know that one? If you don’t remember it, it is reproduced here:
So you won’t explain or describe it either. Huh. Why not? Is faith just an abstraction for you too? Really, what is the encounter? What is the experience? Are there locutions? Visions? Feelings? (But those can be psychologically self-induced and every Catholic spiritual master says to distrust feelings.) A sense of serendipity? Miraculous events?
Mother Teresa had only two supposed “encounters”, such as they were, and the rest of her life was spiritually arid. She felt nothing. She experienced nothing. She had no consolation. She begged God for assurance. He didn’t give her any. She admitted to her spiritual director that she felt like a fraud and wondered whether God was real.
I’ll partially answer for Anonymous. Mother Teresa had obviously encountered the Dark Night of the Soul. This reflects spiritual advancement. God doesn’t do this for the spiritual beginner. For them, their prayer life will become more lush and fertile as they advance.
Regarding locutions and visions, St. John of the Cross recommends ignoring them. If you don’t ignore them, you do so at your own risk. While locutions and visions can come from God, demonic angels can also replicate these. If they do, it’s to snare the soul. They do this by offering truthful locutions for a time: Once the soul is hooked and convinced that they’re from God, they then offer deceptive ones.
I’ve received a small number of locutions over the course of my own life: They should NOT be a standard occurrence.
You can read more about the Dark Night in “The Dark Night” and the “Ascent of Mount Carmel” by St. John of the Cross. I recommend the one from ICS Publications because it’s easier to read.
I need to make a correction. My reference to “demonic angels” should have been “demonic spirits.” “Demonic angels” is a contradiction.
I’ve read the works of St. John of the Cross numerous times. He is one of my favorite saints, along with Augustine and Thomas Aquinas.
BTW, I disagree that demonic angels is a contradiction. Angel refers to a nature, which can be corrupted. So demons are angels, but they are fallen angels.
And I’m pleased you didn’t make the amateur mistake of referring to “The dark night of the soul”. It’s just “The Dark Night.”
When people use the phrase “dark night of the soul” I immediately know they have no clue what they are talking about and have gotten their pop-spirituality secondhand, at best. St. John of the Cross writes about the night of sense and the night of the spirit.
People also don’t appreciate that the first night is uneasy but the second night is terrifying.
I can’t stand when people speak of minor-league, everyday sufferings as their “dark night of the soul.” They have no idea what they are talking about.
I don’t know what your encounter will be like. You can read about the saints. Mine vary.
What do you do after you receive communion?
You taught religion for 30 years. How did you teach your students to pray? What did you tell them to do after communion? How did you tell them to foster their relationship with God?
You did a pilgrimage to every mission in California. Did you not feel Him? Did your heart not leap when you walked in the door or when you knelt down? Did you not feel cradled or a sense of peace?
Sin blocks it. Anger especially blocks it. Pride definitely blocks it. Even if you are in mortal sin you can experience it usually as a call to conversion. You might be like the publican where he was looking down on others and did not get justified,
Does it bother you at all that you are being so mean to God, to the person God sent to be a shepherd and to people who are trying to help you?
You may be experiencing a dark night, or spiritual dryness, or a closed heaven, which is one of the sufferings of Christ on the Cross.
Do you know about demonic obsession? You cannot pray your way out of that. A priest has to do it.
I am suggesting so many things because I am not trying to counsel you or advise you. Just to give you some ideas of what might be wrong in my very limited understanding.
Maybe it is just the way God wants you to journey to Him without consolations. You don’t have to have these kinds of experiences to be faithful and pleasing to God.
You just seem so lost.
Read the Gospels. Especially the words of Jesus. He is saying them to you. That is an encounter with him.
When you receive the Eucharist, that is an encounter with him. You don’t have to have an earth-moving experience or a mountain-top experience. It is still an encounter.
Have you ever had an encounter with a famous person? It is more meaningful to you than it is to them, probably. But sometimes it is a let-down because they aren’t “on” right then. You are used to seeing them when they are entertaining.
What do you want from an encounter? Visions, locutions, feelings? If you don’t get those, you still had an encounter.
When you encounter Jesus, what is He experiencing from you? Joy, love, gratitude or distrust, rage, disbelief?
Christianity is primarily an encounter with a person rather than an idea. You have to experience the encounter to know it. Everything else is nothing more than describing the encounter which is what you’re talking about.
How do you encounter the Living God? Good question! First, you need to be humble: Pride kills authentic spirituality. This includes tempting God which equates to making deals with him. Second, you need to get rid of excessive noise and distraction.
Lastly, know that God created you to be in relationship with him. He is always calling you to himself, but he’s doing so on his terms in the way that he knows best. What you need to be is open, receptive, and humble to his gentle prodding (1 Kings 19:9-13). Humbly reach out to him.
It’s been a long, painful trek down the walk to that door. He lifts his hand to knock, then pauses “is this real? What will happen? Suppose there is no answer – Why should I bother? Is this just one of those catholic made up stories?
He reflects on his years of education, his life long experiences, “Oh Well”…
Go ahead, Kevin – give it a try.
“Knock. and you shall enter – seek, and you shall find”
Sadly, if one is directed to receive communion in the hand, one commits a sacrilege. I feel sorry for all the Catholics who are forced to commit sacrilege when they receive Communion by order of their bishop. If Bishop Cotta would like an encounter with the Risen Lord, as all of us would, why not attend the Traditional Latin Mass receive just such an encounter. Why not end the severe restrictions placed on celebration of the TLM, let alone promote the Lockdown that has done so much to harm God’s people? Recovering the TLM would go a long way toward the divine healing our people need.
Receiving Holy Communion on the hand is not a sacrilege. If it were, the early church would have banned it.
Kevin. In the Gospel of Matthew 5:8 we read, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. ..” If you hunger for relationship or some word or vision of consolation, have you first tried to properly prepare yourself for one? How well have you managed in distancing yourself from worldly things? How well have you managed to erase your own will in substitution for the will of heaven? 1 day, 2 weeks.. how long do you last in this way? How long are you willing to live so as to receive what it is you are yearning deeply for? What you are asking for is not a low hanging fruit, Kevin. It is almost an erasure of your self, a holy beating as a piece of metal in the furnace and the anvil. Would you be willing to give up comforts for the reward of a taste of that intimate union? And if you encounter the Lord without stepping through the gauntlet of trial and purification, do you think it will be positive?
If the bishop really believed what he wrote about the liturgy, sacraments and Catholic faith being life-giving and essential and giving hope, he never would have gone along with lockdowns, prohibitions on indoor worship and capacity restrictions. He would have ordered his priests to continue celebrating Mass so the Church’s essential ministry would not be denied to the faithful. Sorry, but this rings empty to me. Now he touts Mass as essential? As essential as a ballgame, it seems. Where was he last Easter season? I’m with Kevin. The bishop’s actions bely his words.
Under the 4th Commandment, we are told to obey civil authorities. If they had ordered the Church to have no Mass at all, that would have to be disobeyed. Mass is essential and it continued throughout the year. You benefitted from the graces of all those Masses.
even you should know that unjust laws don’t have to be obeyed
Unjust laws should not be obeyed. California is the only state who kept churches closed. It ended up in court and the churches won.
We were closed 6 weeks at the request of President Trump. We still have a dispensation but it will be gone soon.
Another hireling. Where were you a year ago when we needed you “shepherds” to stand up for us? Where?
Our faith should not depend on “feelings,” which fluctuate from day to day. I did read the article on the “Secret to Sanctity” from the post above. I agree that control of the imagination is essential for fruitful prayer. Prayers do not have to be long or memorized or read from a book. A simple 5 minute address to our Blessed Lord Jesus counts as an encounter. Simply repeating “Here I am, Lord, I love you, Lord.” is sufficient if you do not have any other words to express your love for Jesus. I don’t claim to have any special locutions or messages. Just thinking about what Jesus went though in his Passion and death on the cross is mental prayer, another kind of encounter. Spiritual reading provides insight on how to pray. I am so grateful for the gift of “faith,” specifically our Catholic faith. It does take an effort to think about our Lord, to meditate on His passion, read about His life, control the imagination enough to concentrate on all the above. Even then, dryness may present an obstacle. But I learned never to DEPEND on mere feelings, which are fleeting and untrustworthy.. To be able to keep practicing our faith in concrete ways regardless of the chaos surrounding us is itself a gift.
I don’t have an imagination. I have aphantasia, as I learned about five years ago is what it’s called. For decades when people talked about imagining things I just thought they meant thinking about them in the abstract without experiencing them because that’s all I had ever done. I had no idea imagination meant the ability to conjure visual and auditory experiences in your mind that are not really occurring in the physical world. I cannot do that. It seems like a superpower to me.
Thank you for sharing. I have an overactive imagination and it has definitely been a trial and a downfall and an occasion of sin. Everything about this world is good in some ways and bad in others.
St. Thomas Aquinas said that fantasy is the ultimate sin because it is a total rejection of the creation that God made. I read that once. It is not a superpower at all.
I began watching this short video from Ascension Press with the hope it would explain things because it’s titled “This is What it Means to Encounter Jesus.” What a disappointment. The friar commits sleight of hand at the end and switches to describing the fruits of encountering Jesus instead of the encounter itself, even though at the beginning he said he would explain the encounter with Jesus. Makes me think he doesn’t know what he’s talking about and hasn’t experienced an encounter himself but feels the need to refer to it, just like the bishop.
So I’m really beginning to suspect that people have no idea what the encounter really is or would be. Every explanation can be reduced to therapy, self-help, or psychology. But that’s not an encounter with Jesus.
It’s getting harder to maintain belief in the supernatural reality of the church when there’s nothing identifiably supernatural about what’s going on and the church herself is so corrupt and the bishops and the pope are causing scandal time and again, the latest being this Vatican health conference with Chelsea Clinton and Dr. Fauci as featured speakers. I sympathize with people who leave the church or who won’t come back to Mass. I completely get where they’re coming from.
@ Kevin T. You are not alone. I somehow understand you. Holy people are capable of experiencing intense doubts, and the seeming loss of God’s consolations can be so painful. I have to remind myself daily that faith isn’t just a feeling; it is a decision. I also find it easier to pray for others rather than for myself, so perhaps I should put in a good word with Our Lord for me and for you, that we both can find it easier to experience joy and find healing in His presence. God Bless.
I have had “miracles” occur that consoled me, but space is too short to relate them all.
One Friday evening around dusk I had an urge that would not go away to drive over to a Catholic shrine with a gift shop. I just wanted to stay home. Nevertheless, I put on my street clothes, went to the shrine and found myself wheeling an older woman around in a wheel chair to get holy water and the picture of Jesus she had bought for her son blessed. At dark her son came in his truck.
I told a friend I felt the Holy Spirit sent me. She said the woman probably had prayed for help.
What is an encounter? It is just meeting someone. You encounter God in reading the Bible and in the Sacraments. God is everywhere. You are in Him and He is in you.
You are going through a purification and my understanding is that as people advance in holiness there are less and less sensible consolations.
Your search for an encounter is an encounter.
You have lost confidence in God and in the Church because of personal and social setbacks. Those don’t mean anything.
So what if the Pope invites people you don’t think much of to a health conference? So what? That does not mean anything.
Jesus said that scandals are inevitable. Proof right there. He knew 2000 years ago (actually from all eternity).
Strike the shepherd and the sheep will be scattered. Yep, He got that one right too.
Pray the way He told you to pray.