I think that one of the most challenging parts of dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic is the uncertainty. Being a new strain of virus, there has been uncertainty on how contagious it is, how quickly it develops, and how deadly it can be. It also seems that every time we start to answer some questions about it, it just leads to more questions and more uncertainty. That uncertainty hits home when we recognize the personal issues at stake: the uncertainty of what I would do if I get sick, or if my loved ones get sick, or if I lose my job. These are all real concerns and should be addressed in the best ways possible. It is not helpful to ignore or avoid those questions.
However, I would like to focus on another set of questions dealing with the uncertainties of what comes next. I think it is safe to say that things have changed and that they are not going to simply go back to the way they were – at least not for quite a while. Even as the majority of the stay at home order is scheduled to end this week (May 18), we must acknowledge that experts predict the number of cases and deaths due to COVID-19 will likely continue to rise for some time afterwards.
As far as I know at the publishing of this bulletin, the plan is to begin opening churches for public Masses very soon. The bishop has asked parishes to submit a plan for reopening to his office to help facilitate a safe and smooth transition. Concrete examples might include blocking of every other pew or a detailed schedule of cleaning after services. We want to do what we can to help make the celebration of the Eucharist as prayerful as possible without individuals having to be worried or distracted by health concerns.
Unfortunately, no amount of precautions would be guaranteed to prevent illness or remove uncertainty and distractions. If you are at risk for severe complications from COVID-19 or are sick and at risk of transmitting the disease, please stay at home. We should each do our part to help one another move towards a healthy future.
None of us can know exactly what will happen; there are too many variables and uncertainties. We can only do our best to put a plan in place to account for what we can control and then continue to execute and adjust that plan as we learn more. Please walk with us as we go forward together, trusting in God’s grace and devoting ourselves in worship of Him who has loved us. I hope to see you all again soon in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass.