…The early responses of Catholic authorities to the coronavirus outbreak seemed tinged with a shockingly secular spirit. Italian bishops moved quickly to forbid public Masses in Italy, at a time when swimming pools, gymnasiums, malls, and restaurants were still open, as if the Mass were less essential than any of these. In other parts of the world, holy water was removed from churches and members of the faithful wishing to show reverence to the Blessed Sacrament by receiving on the tongue were ordered to receive in the hand—a move that hardly seems calculated to please Our Divine Savior, whose presence in the Holy Eucharist is already subjected to so much irreverence, disbelief, and sacrilege.
And then they closed the baths at Lourdes. Now, the whole shrine has been shut down. Could there be any greater ingratitude to Our Lady, who caused the spring at Lourdes to flow for the healing of souls and bodies? For 150 years, persons with open sores, ulcers, infections, and contagious diseases of every description have bathed there and received graces in soul and in body. What an insult to our Blessed Mother, Salus infirmorum, the Health of the Sick, to imply that her healing waters could harm anyone, or that the coronavirus is more powerful than she is!
But Catholics were relieved to see some reactions of faith as well. The Polish bishops have addressed the crisis by calling for more Masses so that churches will be less crowded. “It’s unthinkable that we should not pray in our churches,” Archbishop Stanislaw Gadecki said. The Austrian bishops have taken similar measures. On a smaller scale, encouraging reports have been circulating of priests taking action on an individual level: one video shows a
Another shows a priest, fully vested, processing through an Italian town with the Blessed Sacrament, unattended but for a server carrying the traditional ombrellino. In Spain the bishops have asked churches to start ringing the Angelus again (leading one to wonder why they ever stopped).
Bishop Joseph Strickland of Tyler, God be praised, has called for priests in his diocese to carry out processions with the Blessed Sacrament and to ring the blessed bells of their churches in imitation of these fine examples. Perhaps in places where gatherings are still permitted, the faithful will process too, singing the Litany of the Saints in which we pray, “From plague, famine and war, O Lord, deliver us.”
The above comes from a March 18 story in Crisis magazine.