Where I live, there have been no masses since mid-March. A couple weeks ago, President Trump declared religious services essential, but our Archbishop seems to have decided to go with our Democratic governor's mandates prohibiting them instead. So, even for Pentecost, no mass.
Having heard through the grapevine that they would begin again this Sunday, though with coronavirus measures, I've been struggling. I'm asking myself if I will be too angry over the measures to be in a proper spiritual state to receive Holy Communion.
Yesterday an email came from parish staff that didn't help.
Things will look quite different at St. Agnes in the coming days and weeks as we come together again as a community. Please know that the decisions regarding how Mass will be celebrated and how the parish will operate in these days have been made with great prayer and consideration for how we can safely and effectively serve our community both spiritually and physically.
It goes without saying that the woman who wrote this means well. I'm guessing she's been fielding a lot of calls and messages from frustrated, opinionated parishioners. I'm sure it hasn't been easy. And I don't doubt at all that the decisions were made with "great prayer and consideration." I don't even say that they are bad decisions.
Rather, I hold it up as yet another exhibit of the terrible structural disorder in the Church right now. On the most basic, practical issues affecting the very heart of life together as local Catholics, the laity have no say. None. We can't discuss and vote on the measures. We're not invited to offer our thoughts. We have no vehicle for voicing concerns, exchanging ideas, proposing solutions, or developing a consensus. We just have to wait for instructions from on high.
After that, we have two options: Obey or walk away. Attitudinally we can be humble and cooperative or we can be bitter and complaining. Guess which the priests and their staff would prefer? Guess which they'll preach is more Christian?
Readers, this is not okay.
And thankfully it's not really true that those are the only two options. Rather, they're only the two options under the status quo. But we can change the status quo! Actually, we have to. The status quo, like it or not, is collapsing. The only question remaining is what will replace it.
We—I mean us, the laity—can restructure the Church so that it better reflects the doctrines of our Faith, better accords with our dignity as persons and as baptized, and way, way better serves the mission Christ gave us to redeem the world. We can do it, even if the hierarchy oppose us. (Don't forget, we outnumber them by far, and they need us.)
Attitudinally, we can foster in ourselves courage, fortitude, hope, passion, wisdom, faith. We can call up the power of our baptism and confirmation—the same power that raised Christ from the dead. We can do it, and we will, for love, because it must be done.