COVID-19 and “Living”
Through the majority of August, we in Saskatchewan have seen a decrease in active cases of COVID-19 and we should be complimented for our efforts to do whatever we can to limit the spread of this virus. But with that good news in mind, we also know that we have, more recently, seen another increase in cases. It seems that just when we think we have some control over this virus, it finds a way to surge once again. Therefore, it is important for us to keep safety protocols for it is in caring for the health of our neighbours that we declare that we “Love our neighbour as ourselves.”
And with the opening of our schools, our diligence in these matters must continue, for the health of the children and teachers, but also to ease the possibility of the virus spreading to other vulnerable people in the community. Lately, a great deal has been said about the precautions in the schools, but please keep in mind that our precautionary care in the stores, the Church and the streets will also affect the situation in the schools. We all have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the children, as well as our friends in the community.
But this does not mean that life has been restricted to the point that we put aside all aspects of life outside our homes. We must live the precautionary guidelines this virus requires, making choices that best suit our situations, but we must also find ways to, once again, live the life that God has given each of us. God desires that we do more than simply maintain our existence. He wants us to live. Jesus has told us that he came that those who believe in him, “may have life, and have it abundantly.” Of course, that abundant life is most perfect in the next life, but God also desires that we appreciate the life he gives us today. And so, keeping in mind the need to be safe, and to care for others, we must also begin to step out of the virus fear which has gripped us and endeavour to live again.
With that in mind, I wish to address a disturbing belief that has grown out of a misinterpretation of the guidelines our Bishops have given us during this time. I have been hearing people say that the Bishops, in absolving the people from the obligation of attending Mass on Sunday, have declared that watching the Mass on TV or the Internet is as good as going to Church. That is not what they have said, and so I quote Bishop Hagemoen’s statement of March 17th, “During this period, I grant to all the Catholic faithful dispensation from their Sunday obligation.” At no time has anyone declared that watching the Liturgy on technology is ‘as good as’ being part of the Parish Community, gathered in the Church and sharing in the Eucharist, the Body and Blood of Christ.
As much as, regarding COVID-19, we must be careful about our personal safety and the safety of those around us, it is important for us to also continue to live the life that God has given us for that gift of life is so amazing that it is a disservice to our Lord to not find ways, even small and careful ways, to live that gift every day. Our Churches, throughout the province, are working to create safe environments, limiting numbers, encouraging the keeping of safe distances, and ensuring safe distribution of the Eucharist and it is hoped that this safe celebration of the Mass can be a small step that will encourage the people of our Parishes to be open to the need to re-grow the sense of community which has been hindered by this virus, for God did not create us to live in solitude. He wants us to be ‘One.’
May God Bless you and keep you safe.
Fr. Edward Gibney