Here in USA, the Federal Government asked us many days ago not to meet in groups larger than 10 people in an effort to get ahead of the curve on COVID-19. At first our bishop gave a general dispensation. But finally, he suspended all gatherings & Masses.
As a leader for our local 40 Days for Life, I made a tough decision…and took heat from a few people. When local safety parameters seemed virtually impossible to achieve, I suspended our presence at the sidewalk. This seemed the best way to safeguard the health of all our participants.
These kinds of decisions are what can make leadership difficult.
As it turns out, our bishop’s move was apparently providential. Yesterday (ironically, on the Feast of St. Joseph…protector of Mary & Jesus) our entire State was put on ‘Shelter in Place’ status in an effort to contain the virus. They have looked at models of the spread of this particular contagion. If they don’t contain, 50% of the State could be effected.
In the midst of hard decisions being made, bishops have been under attack. When Masses have been dispensed or suspended, all form of complaints and even conspiracy theories arise. They are too fearful. They are going against the rights of the faithful to have access to Mass & the Eucharist. They are part of a plot to change the Church. They are succumbing to a government plan to attack people of faith.
Everyone needs to slow down and take a breath.
We are dealing with something no one understands. Our bishops are acting in a prudent manner to mitigate & protect. I have to believe they approached these decisions bathed in deep prayer and contemplation. I think God is directing them to this prudence in order to protect the faithful.
What would have happened in Egypt if the Jews did not listen to their local bishop, Moses? He had them ‘Shelter In Place’ and they were saved from plagues and the death of their first born. And he subsequently lead them out of bondage.
Noah brought his own family to the Ark to ‘Shelter In Place’ during the Great Flood. What would have happened if they had not followed him? But they did, and they were saved.
In both biblical cases, these men followed God’s plan for safety. Was it well-received by all? No. Noah was thought to be crazy. Moses was ridiculed and second-guessed many times. But ultimately, God’s provision under these men saved many lives. In Noah’s case, the entire human race was preserved through his family. In Moses’ case, the remnant of God’s chosen were spared…those who would ultimately produce Jesus Christ, Savior of the world.
Instead of second-guessing our bishops and leaders, perhaps we might use this time for spiritual reflection and prayer…a retreat, so to speak. Instead of complaining about yet another meal of manna & quail, be grateful for God’s provision. And draw close to your loved ones & friends, even if it is only through technology.
But especially, draw closer to God. Take advantage of online Mass and Spiritual Communion. Pull out those dusty Catholic CDs and books. Listen to uplifting podcasts. And pray. Strengthen your spirit…you will need that in order to endure.
Perhaps you can think of your home as your own personal Ark that is weathering a stormy sea of unknown magnitude. Soon the flood will subside, and that Ark will deliver you…in God’s time…to dry land.