"It was at this point that Bilbo stopped. Going on from there was the bravest thing he ever did. The tremendous things that happened afterwards were as nothing compared to it. He fought the real battle in the tunnel alone, before he ever saw the vast danger that lay in wait. At any rate after a short halt go on he did..."
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102 days in between Masses and...
From back in March until now, it was exactly 102 days in
between Masses at my local parish. It was about as I expected. As I frequently
say, “expect the worst, and you won’t be disappointed.”
We arrived the mandatory 15 minutes early to avoid being
locked out. The church was allowed up to 30 people (technically more, but I won't get into that). Some people were spaced
out, gasp, with one pew separating themselves from others. They were promptly
told to move to a gap of two pews before Mass could start. That was pretty awkward.
Mass was 55 minutes long. Approximately 26 minutes of that was
chatter about COVID-19 and regulations. At the last second, we discovered that
for those wishing to receive Holy Communion on the tongue, the priest was to
wear gloves (to go along with his mask). They were super cheap hospital gloves
that crinkled and touched the side of the mouth (without the priest knowing
it). That’ll have to be the last Holy Communion we receive there for quite some
Apparently Mass attendance has dropped significantly around
the world. Places allowed, say, 30% capacity are scoring far below that number.
After this past Sunday, I now know why. It was all so dehumanizing. I’m not
overstating it when I say it felt like we were not welcome at all. A nuisance
at best. The whole process was more about bowing down to “Science” and “The
State.” People left visibly upset. As did we. Our 6-year-old son asked at the
end, “Dad, can we just go back to you doing the Mass prayers next week?” I
think we will, actually. But we'll look around first. And no, we cannot get to a TLM. The nearest one is 2.5
hours away, at 8am in the morning. Talk is cheap. Getting four little kids up before
5am is not doable.
So there you have it. 102 days. What have we learned? That there
are far worse things than a virus. “And fear ye not them that kill the body, and are not able to kill the
soul: but rather fear him that can destroy both soul and body in hell” (Mt. 10:28).
An update of my thoughts on Exodus 90 can be found HERE . Exodus 90 is underway for many Catholic men. It is an intense 90 day program based on prayer, asceticism, and fraternity. For 90 days these men will take cold showers, abstain from alcohol and most media, fast twice per week, give up snacks and desserts, along with various other spiritual tasks. I applaud such a penitential spirit. The inevitable…. HOWEVER… However, I do have two concerns about Exodus 90 which could use some explaining. 1: Sundays The Church already has a wise, if not perfect, system of fasting and feasting. Catholics are encouraged to do penance on Wednesdays and Fridays (some add in Saturdays as well). In addition, there are specific periods of penance (Lent, Advent, Ember Days). Feasting occurs on Sundays as well as on major Feast Days and Solemnities (e.g. the Assumption of Mary). There is a built in balance to life. My problem with Exodus 90 is that, from what I hear, Sundays and F
Sometimes words are hardly necessary. Behold Bishop McElroy's 2020 Pentecost Mass for all Cultures. He is head of the diocese of San Diego. Procession Reading Virtual Prayers of the Faithful Setting the Table... Incensed yet? How about now? Let's Zoom over to his view A touching photo Jammin' To quote Susan from the Parish Council: "Bless and Amem."
There is always a certain amount of fear and trembling when I begin writing a piece on a somewhat unfamiliar subject. Perhaps all that will be demonstrated here is my ignorance and incompetence. To which I suppose my wife would reply: “You’d think you’d be used to that by now.” But I write this piece simply for the fact that Catholic trends, even good ones, need sober reflection and refinement. I refer to the Exodus 90 program. [i] Earlier in 2020 – simpler times to be sure - I listened with interest to a podcast on Exodus 90. In it I heard that this program, which was founded in 2013, is an intense 90 day program based on prayer, asceticism, and fraternity. For 90 days men take cold showers, abstain from alcohol and most media, fast twice per week, give up snacks and desserts, meet weekly with a small group of participants, exercise regularly, all the while following a regimented prayer schedule. I applaud such a penitential spirit (though it seems that cold showers in the de