I’m Still Going To Mass

I live on Martha’s Vineyard. As far as I know, there’s no Coronavirus here yet. And the island is essentially a small town — literally 6 small towns, but figuratively one village. It’s a close-knit community and word gets around fast.

The island has only one Catholic parish, which was created by merging what used to be 3 parishes. So we have 3 churches, but only 1 priest. Two of the three churches are open only in summer, in the tourist season. There are many more persons at Mass in summer, as visitors to the island

“The Vineyard is home to roughly 17,000 year-round residents. During the summer months, the population increases to nearly 200,000. Sixty-three percent of all homes on the Vineyard belong to seasonal residents.” [MVY]

In the summer, we usually have a priest from Sierra Leone who helps our pastor with the increased number of Catholics.

The Bishop of our diocese has decided to dispense the obligation to go to Mass, but still have Masses celebrated. That’s a good approach, I think, as the faithful can then assess their own risk, and decide whether or not to go. There is also no Communion under the species of wine, so that no one shares the same Cup. This is important as Coronavirus can spread by food and drink, as well as through the air. (Coronavirus infects the lungs as well as the intestines, and patients often have symptoms, e.g. diarrhea, indicating this.)

As there are no known cases of Coronavirus on the island right now, I still go to Confession and Mass. Though I need to be very careful, as I am nearly 60 years old, and the virus hits older persons harder than the young. Catholics in any city at all, and Catholics increased risk of death from Coronavirus should not take the risk. I agree with closing Masses in cities and anywhere the virus is likely to be found among any set of 100 or more persons. We need to stop the spread of this disease, while researchers seek an effective treatment and a vaccine.

I disagree with the practice of judging everything the Pope and the Bishops do, and then publicly contradicting them at every turn. They are the shepherds, and we are the sheep — not the other way around. I don’t care how popular you are as a blogger or speaker, you still have a spiritual and moral obligation to accept each Roman Pontiff as your personal Teacher and Shepherd, along with the body of Bishops and (ordinarily) your particular Bishop. Undermining the Pope does not help. And assuming that, in every case where you and the Roman Pontiff disagree, he must be wrong, is incredibly arrogant, ignorant, and faithless.

Trust God and trust the Pope and the body of Bishops.

Ronald L. Conte Jr.
Roman Catholic theologian and translator of the Catholic Public Domain Version of the Bible.

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2 Responses to I’m Still Going To Mass

  1. Michael says:

    I live in Oregon and the Archbishop just suspended all Sunday masses through Easter. It’s very sad but some parishes are still offering daily mass. My question is about confession. In cases where confession is absolutely unavailable, would an act of contrition suffice even with mortal sin?

    • Ron Conte says:

      Always, an act of perfect contrition immediately restores the state of grace, and that is sufficient for salvation. When confession becomes available, then go to Confession. But if you repent and make an act of perfect contrition, you are certainly forgiven. Love others, and you will have the graces needed to repent with perfect contrition. Then you need not be afraid if confession is unfortunately unavailable for a time.

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