It is Wednesday of the third week of our lockdown and things are looking pretty grim. The people of New York City are suffering most, but the authorities are planning for the pandemic to hit hard over the next couple of weeks.  We have the father of one of our school families hospitalized, and I’m sure things will continue to worsen as we move through April.

Yesterday I was not actually depressed, but feeling disoriented and confused about just how to cope. A fellow priest on social media said he never expected that he would have to completely re-design priestly ministry, but that’s what it feels like. We want to be out there ministering to our people and to have so many restrictions placed on us is very hard. My imagination keeps working overtime as I think how I can provide the sacraments for my flock, but it is irresponsible of me to give invitations for people to leave their homes. I know they would do so, but I’m the one encouraging them to break the “shelter in place” laws. I would go and visit them in their homes to celebrate Mass and hear confessions, but that also is not allowed.

This is where, once again, I turn to the monastic traditions of the church. The monks don’t go out. They don’t minister to people in the world. They stay put, and the most extreme–the Carthusians–the community of hermits don’t even leave their cells except for a few times in the week when they meet with their brothers. By the way, if you would like to watch a beautiful film about the Carthusian life it is called Into Great Silence and I think it may be available from some of the streaming services. It is true that, at least the monks have the Mass, but those masses would be the individual masses celebrated by each priest–which is what we have at this time.

Praise the Lord

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