Many of the restrictions placed on Americans in the guise of safety regarding the COVID-19 epidemic are being dismantled. Over 25 states have dropped their statewide mask mandates. Social distancing and other limitations on gatherings are going by the wayside. If these measures were so effective in combating COVID-19, then why drop them? And why now?
None of the measures used (ostensibly) to control the spread of COVID-19 have had any impact on the trajectory of the Coronavirus; the virus goes where it will go. As just one example, in a survey of 1,000 hospitalized COVID-19 patients in New York last year, 85% of them reported they were on lockdown when they became ill with the virus. The same can be said in the Church. The only thing that was prevented from spreading has been the Faith.
The Diocese of Gaylord recently updated its COVID-19 “protocols” . (https://www.dioceseofgaylord.org/news/updates-diocesan-covid-19-protocols-liturgical-celebrations). Starting last weekend, ie, the weekend of Memorial Day, the dispensation from attending Mass on Sunday and Holy Days ended. Also, as of May 15, Diocesan Churches were allowed to immediately drop many of the non-science based measures they have incorporated over the past year: social distancing, masks (unless you are not vaccinated; but you can’t ask anyone their vaccine status!). Could it be that the financial drain of fewer churchgoers is settling in?
An important question that many faithful Catholics have is this: will people come back to Mass? After over 15 months of being told it’s fine to sit home on a Sunday morning and drink a cup of coffee while surfing the internet, is there any reason for a poorly catechized Catholic to return to Church? We have received word that in some parishes, they have seen a 40% drop in Mass attendance during the past year. Will that change?
In what could be a metaphor of “too little too late”, Bishop Hurley recently stopped at a local winery to bless the blooms of the fruit trees. However, many of the trees had lost their blooms or had already bloomed due to the recent weather. Could it be that we will be seeing the lack of bloom in our parishes after months of absurd and harmful restrictions on worship and parish life have been foisted upon the faithful? When the next societal challenge hits us, how will we respond?