Staying home is the right thing to do


During the most sacred time in the Church’s calendar, millions of Catholics will watch Mass from home this year due to the pandemic engulfing the globe. Yearning for the Eucharist, they must settle for an act of spiritual communion. This deeply saddening reality pleases neither priest nor parishioner. But staying home is the right thing to do.

The one who stays home exercises prudence. When done out of authentic care for one’s neighbor, and aided by grace, the Christian practices charity as well. Some commentators opine, however, that pastors have abandoned their flocks during these days.

In times of great trial, people need access to spiritual goods above and beyond earthly concerns. The commentators are not entirely wrong. Some of the widespread hysteria during this pandemic is symptomatic of a culture which prizes physical health as its greatest good. Notwithstanding panicky overreactions, although not the highest good, physical health is still a good to be protected. And while it pains pastors to restrict access to the Mass, they have done so precisely to protect the good of their parishioners, and the common good of all.

Precedent teaches us where good governance lies. In 1918, when the Archbishop of Philadelphia prohibited the assemblage of persons in churches during the Spanish flu, he prudently protected his flock.

Many of the Church’s pastors have exercised that same prudence today. They know that the faithful mystically participate in the celebration of the same sacrifice of the Mass, regardless of the reception of Holy Communion. Pastors are not denying spiritual goods to anyone. They are trying to provide those goods while still protecting their flocks. 


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