I appreciate your principled pro-life stance, suspending public celebrations of mass following appropriate epidemiological guidance to impede transmission of COVID-19 to the most vulnerable among us.
I implore you, in light of the misguided “Give Us Back the Sacraments” media campaign, NOT to cave to political and lay pressure to end these precautions early. Reliable modeling of the disease suggests the peak of the infection curve has yet to come. Moreover, we will likely experience a second wave of infections next Fall and Winter after a summer reprieve, at which time 95% of us may still have been unexposed, with no antibodies, and a vaccine still months away.
Please take active steps to protect our priests and laity from exposure by forbidding public or private liturgical gatherings until such time as public health officials lift the restrictions for all of society. I implore you also to use all your personal influence among your fellow bishops to make sure they do the same.
I understand the pain and anxiety, especially among cradle Catholics, of not being able to receive sacraments temporarily. As an RCIA convert, however, I was catechized to participate in the Eucharist in my lay role among the baptized priesthood. Consistent with the Catechism of the Catholic Church, I was taught the mass is primarily an OFFERING of praise and Thanksgiving to God from all members of the worshipping faithful, not just as something to passively RECEIVE. I am part of the mass when I offer it to God through my part in the Liturgy, and I extend the grace of the mass into ordinary life when I pray the Liturgy of the Hours. Receiving the body and blood of our Lord is a gift, but one which according to the precepts of the Church is only required once a year during Easter when properly disposed.
How many times as a convert did I offer mass, but only receive communion spiritually in my heart until such time as I could validly receive? How many times after converting but aware of grave sin have I prayed the mass and refrained from receiving out of love? Was I any less part of the mass, or falling short of my obligation? No, I was fulfilling it. This situation is no different.
In the current situation, not receiving means loving our neighbor and God through right worship. Please do what you can to help every lay Catholic connect to their baptismal priesthood, to become active participants in OFFERING the mass, and not just liturgical CONSUMERS until such time as we can all receive safely together again.