This past week, the Commonwealth of Virginia announced that it would immediately implement the just announced CDC guidelines which stated that fully vaccinated individuals do not have to wear masks in outdoor or most indoor settings, except on public transit, in health care facilities, and in congregate settings. Throughout the pandemic at national, state and local levels that last phrase “congregate settings” have included churches, synagogues, mosques, and other places of worship. Following on the heels of the Commonwealth’s announcement, our local diocese announced that because of some ambiguity in the announcement, that we were to not inhibit or challenge people who wanted to not wear masks during the celebration of Mass. While we did not agree that there was ambiguity, we complied. As folks and families approached the doors of the church they were not asked if they were vaccinated, but were simply informed that “fully vaccinated people were not required to wear masks but were also free to wear them if they desired.”
Irina Bock is a Silicon Valley-based designer known for creating the Google Android logo. During this pandemic period she started drawing cartoons that highlight how our lives have changed during the pandemic and shared them on Instagram. For those of us who don’t have that social channel, you can find a collection of some of her cartoons here. Here is a sample of one of the cartoon. Take a morning break and enjoy her insights and creativity.
In the quiet of the morning, before the sun is up, morning prayer complete, cup of tea ready, I settle in to my routine of reading several morning papers. Even though I am at my new parish in Northern Virginia, I continue to read the Tampa Bay Times online. There and in other news outlets we have all heard about the con artists who are contacting people offering to register them for vaccination appointments at public or private facilities….”I just need some information – full name, address, etc…and your social security number, and a credit card to hold your reservation.” Right. I hope we have all gotten to the point where we simply do not give out such information over the phone.
One of my morning rituals for some time now has been, in the wee hours of the morning before dawn, to pray the morning prayer (lauds) of Office of the Dead. It is one of the prayer cycles for the repose of a soul found in the Divine Office of the Catholic Church, also called the “Liturgy of the Hours.” You can find versions online. The morning prayer consists of Psalm 51; Isaiah 38:10-14, 17-20; Psalm 146; a reading from 1 Thessalonians 4; the Canticle of Zechariah found in Luke 1:68-79; intercessions for the dead; an Our Father; and final prayer.
I began doing this a while ago as the death toll associated with the pandemic continued to rise.
Recently I have written several posts about the common good as it pertains to wearing masks. Last night on the news a young man said that he didn’t like people telling him what to do and he didn’t see the need to wear masks. It wasn’t a clip from summer time, it was recorded in the midst of this massive second wave of infections nationwide. It just strikes me as an overly libertarian view that does not consider there is a common good. And the common good is a matter of our faith.
A large regional trauma center hospital (more than 1,000 beds) was located within the boundaries of my former parish. The hospital, while having a wonderful chaplain staff, did not have a Catholic priest on the staff and so we priests in the parish took care of the sick and dying, in addition to our usual parish responsibilities. Over the course of more than 13 years assigned to the parish, I easily saw more than 10,000 patients. Most who recovered, some who did not. For those individuals and their families who experienced the great passing on, it was a loss, a sorrow and especially when the young died, a tragedy. Continue reading
I think there was a spark of hope announced recently when Pfizer announced the results of its COVID-19 vaccine trials with 90% effectiveness as a vaccination. There are ten other companies that are in final stages of trials for their product. Certainly welcomed news in an otherwise dismal on-going reports of skyrocketing new infections, increasing positivity rates, a new wave of deaths expected in the typical 2-3 week lag, and (for me) discouraging reports of pockets of people and communities that refuse to wear masks. Their logic escapes me.
… and then there are the next steps
In the course of celebrating Mass we come to the distribution of Communion – during these times of the coronavirus pandemic. At my parish many precautions are taken as part of the distribution of Holy Communion: sanitizing hands of the minister, wearing masks, standing behind a plexiglass shield with a hand pass through – and the Bishop has asked that all the faithful please receive in the hand and not on the tongue. Still we try to be accommodating as best we can. If someone want to receive on the tongue, I will ask them to receive in the hands, but if they insist, I simply ask them to wait until the end of the line so that they are the last to receive. They can then receive on the tongue, following which I am able to again sanitize my hands. Continue reading
As a former naval nuclear submariner and Florida resident, I found this particular cartoon insightful
Fascinating article with animation that unpacks the spread of the Covid-19 virus in the United States.