We are seeing snippets of good in the current coronavirus crisis. However, it has also revealed the great divide that exists in our government, the media, the Church, and other segments of society. Don't let a good crisis go to waste seems to be a popular mantra.
Information, misinformation, disinformation--who do you believe? What is true? Who benefits from the virus? Who gets hurt? Was this an act of biological warfare? How can we blame the Republicans? How can we blame the Democrats? Surely, this must be President Trump's fault somehow. On and on it goes.
What is happening at your house? This crisis is creating opportunities for family time. We shall see if positive results come about because of it. Will all of this bonding time bring families together, or will it drive them absolutely crazy?
Some organizations are seeing an uptick in their business. Other businesses will likely not survive the prolonged shutdown of society. The impact on employees and their families will be widespread.
Is our nation divided? Yes. Is it as bad as the media portrays it? Probably not. Sensationalism and fear mongering are the typical journalistic styles these days. Grab a headline regardless of the cost to integrity.
Our politics, on the other hand, are divided beyond the point of healing. The people in Washington could not even set politics aside for a day to help the American people without pushing agendas, seeking pork, and grandstanding for the finest in political theater. This well-staged drama was produced and orchestrated in front of an empty room, but hey, it earned folks some coverage on the cable news channels. Yes! Pick your favorite channel. Do you prefer "Fake News" from the left leaning networks, or do you prefer "Faux News" from the right leaning channel. Would it not be great if we had an actual news source that just reported the facts and let us interpret those facts for ourselves?
Anyway, how divided is the Catholic Church? When the coronavirus crisis began, there were complaints about being denied the reception of Holy Communion on the tongue. I watched that banter back and forth for days on social media. A particular organization and one bishop are both using the words, "Church of Nice!" One uses it in a positive tone and the other in a negative tone. Just using this one example it is clear to see that the Church is as divided as our politics on many different levels.
Now that we have basically shut down the sacramental life of the Church, where do we find ourselves? "The church is not empty; it is deployed." Do you agree? "If we use caution to go to the store to get worldly bread, could we not use caution to receive heavenly bread?" Do you agree? There are a variety ways to respond to our current circumstances.
Social media has opened up a network of communication that is not always uplifting and life-giving. However, it truly lets you know how divided we stand on the issues. Some of these threads are quite interesting and entertaining. Other times they are just mean. As for myself, I just never imagined I would give up receiving the sacraments during the season of Lent.
Someone commented to me yesterday about their frustrations in regard to the absence of the Church in these difficult days. Was closing down really the only answer? Could we not have been a little creative without shutting down? I share that sentiment. A drive-by confessional made the headlines in Catholic circles. That was "outside the box" thinking both figuratively and literally.
After seeing a comment from New York Mayor DeBlasio that churches and synagogues may never reopen, I am even more troubled about the future well-being of our religious liberty. How concerned are you in regard to how easily we gave up or rights in response to the pandemic?
Freedom of religion has been under attack for a long time. Remember things like the HHS mandate and the Little Sisters of the Poor. Time and time again the politicians wanted us to have Freedom of Worship--not Freedom of Religion. This move to shut down Freedom of Assembly allows them to finally squelch Freedom of Worship as well. It seems we accepted this and went down without even putting up a fight. Do you see that as a proper response to the current crisis, or do you think there will be some long term consequences to these decisions that are not favorable for the Church?
I certainly understand the need to protect our people and our clergy from exposure to the coronavirus. We are seeing the effects in Italy from not doing so. However, please keep your radar fine tuned to observe how this plays out in the long run. When the current crisis ends, what permanent changes will be made in regard to the administration of the sacraments by our priests in hospitals, nursing homes, and even in the church building itself? What precedents will have been set? Does Mayor De Blasio have a point?
My dear readers, please keep praying. Stay vigilant!