WITH Covid-19 dreadfully hanging above our heads, us Catholics would like to be in a state of grace; that is, in a state without mortal sin. Thus, the need to avail ourselves of the Sacrament of Reconciliation or, in my younger days, simply Confession.
But how do this with Holy Masses themselves, being kept away from the faithful in fear of Covid-19? Amid quarantine limitations on all? Amid lack of public transport and, in case of those with own vehicles, the difficulty of passing through checkpoints?
It is good that last February 28, before all the Covid-19 restrictions, I was able to go to Confession at the Apu Church and, by God’s grace, have kept myself in state of grace. I worry about Covid-19, but there is strength in knowing I am not spiritually stained; that I am ready to cross the veil while at the same time praying Please Lord, not yet because I have a 97-year-old mother to take care of, on top of three adopted children needing so much guidance.
So what to do amid the need for Confession in the face not only of Covid 19, but also of Holy Week and, on the Sunday after Easter, the Divine Mercy Sunday which showers with Plenary Indulgence those worthily receiving the Eucharist?
Here is what Catholic writer Michael Brown reported on what Pope Francis has said about this difficulty. The following, sans direct quotes, belong to him:
The Holy Father recognized that before Easter, many faithful go to Confession to meet with God again.
“However,” he acknowledged, “many will say to me today: But, Father, where can I find a priest, a confessor, because one can’t leave home? And I want to make peace with the Lord, I want Him to embrace me, that my Papa embrace me . . . What can I do if I can’t find priests?”
“Do what the Catechism says,” the Jesuit Pope stressed, “it’s very clear: if you don’t find a priest to hear your Confession, talk with God, He is your Father, and tell Him the truth: “Lord, I’ve done this, and that, and that . . . I’m sorry, and ask Him for forgiveness with all your heart, with the Act of Contrition and promise Him: Afterwards I will go to Confession, but forgive me now.”
If you do all this, Francis said, you will return to God’s grace immediately. As the Catechism teaches, he reminded, you yourself can approach God’s forgiveness without having a priest at hand.
“Think: it’s the moment! And this is the right moment, the opportune moment. An Act of Contrition well made,” Francis said, “will make our soul become white as snow.”
“It would be good if today this return resounded in our ears,return to your Papa, return to your Father,” Pope Francis said, underscoring: “He is waiting for you and He will celebrate you.”
The Masses in Francis chapel normally welcome a small group of faithful, but due to recent measures taken by the Vatican, are now being kept private, without their participation.
It was announced in recent days that the Pope would have these Masses, in this period, be available to all the world’s faithful, via streaming on Vatican Media, on weekdays, at 7 a.m. Rome time.
This comes at a time too when the Italian bishops’ conference has canceled public Masses throughout the nation, until at least April 3rd, following guidelines put out by Italian authorities. The entire country is on lockdown. Many countries worldwide now are increasingly taking precautions against the virus.
In addition to Santa Marta, the Vatican is taking other steps to discourage crowds and keep people safe. They are televising the Pope giving privately, from the papal library, his weekly Angelus and General Audience addresses.
Moreover, the Vatican Museums are now closed, along with the Vatican’s other similar museums. There have also been various guidelines implemented throughout the Vatican, to prevent the spread of the virus.
To date, one person, an external visitor, has been tested positive for Coronavirus in the Vatican. The five people the individual had contact with, are being quarantined.