There were two significant things that happened to the Church in December of 2019. Both of these have played and will play important roles in the Church for years to come but neither have been put together as one until this article. Could it possibly be the case? Read the article and see it for yourself.
First, Archbishop Fulton Sheen’s path toward sainthood has been diverted, at least temporarily. On Tuesday (December 3), the Catholic Diocese of Peoria announced Sheen’s beatification would be delayed from its scheduled date of Dec. 21.
Second, at the very same time, a pandemic was beginning in Wuhan China. Could these two events be related? Even though the Chinese blame the US Military for beginning the virus and targeting the Chinese people-look at another concept here. However, look at who has had more deaths from this pandemic? No country has had more than Italy has had. Over 5,000 people have died from this pandemic including at least twenty-eight priests in Italy alone. It is interesting to note that at the same time it was Rome that pulled the path to sainthood for Archbishop Fulton Sheen. After they did this then this happened. It is also interesting to note that Italy has been hit the worse. Did the Vatican pulling their support for this beloved human being have anything to do with this pandemic and its spread?
Maybe not, but the facts are there for you to put two and two together. At this point, we should take comfort in the words of Archbishop Sheen when he said, “It is not easy to explain why God permits evil, but it is impossible for an atheist to explain the existence of goodness. How could a spiritless, soul-less, cross-less, Godless universe become the center of faith, purity, sacrifice, and martyrdom? How can decency be the decent thing if there is no God? Since God is love, why should we be surprised that want of it should end in pain, hate, broken hearts, and war?”
Today we are at war with this virus and we are in a war with our souls. Look at how religious culture has changed. Today we have gone to shutting down Church services. Could this have happened 100 years ago? Probably not- when 80% of the Church attended Church every week- Politicians would not shut down Churches.
If this is a war, who is winning? How could the people win if they lose their souls? In an unprecedented move on the part of the Church, the Vatican announced that Holy Week observances in Rome have been canceled.
Many Dioceses have shut done Church services and have recommended older Christians to stay at home rather than attending Mass on Sundays, which is usually required; some churches have made church cervices available via online live streaming or television. They have introduced into the religious lexicon a new word- Spiritual Communion.
As more Catholics around the world find themselves unable to receive the Eucharist due to the coronavirus pandemic, Pope Francis provided an example of a spiritual communion prayer that can be said from home.
“My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament of the altar. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart ... I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You,” Pope Francis prayed March 21 in his televised daily Mass from his residence in Vatican City
In this article, I am not arguing or attempting to explain that these steps are not needed, what I am doing it trying to draw light to what will happen after this event is over. If we have 20% of the Church attending weekly before the virus, what will the attendance be after the virus? If we have 70% of the Catholics in the Fall of 2019 say that Eucharist was not the real presence of Jesus Christ, now with Spiritual Communion will this number grow larger? If we can receive Mass through TV and can receive Communion through TV why go to Church? This will be on the minds of many.
It is interesting to note that Archbishop Fulton Sheen wrote about this in a book on Wartime Prayers, “If there is no difference between right and wrong, how can Hitler be wrong and how can we be right? What are at war, if it is not because right is more precious than life?”
Brothers and Sisters, today more than ever we need to be right, do right, and live right. Life is a participatory sport. God did not call us to be on his team to sit on the bench, did he?