This very contagious virus is a concern to us physically, but it has hit us with full force where it really hurts – in our hearts and in our souls. Our churches are closed, we have been banned from the Mass and the Sacraments. Bishop Athanasius Schneider March 19, 2020 quoted from Romans 5:3 “We glory in tribulations” .
This phrase sums it all up – because suddenly Catholics everywhere (and other Christians) suddenly have a renewed fervour and thirst for Our Lord . Bp. Schneider, in his article tells us
“Millions of Catholics in the so-called free Western world will, in the coming weeks or even months, and especially during Holy Week and Easter, the culmination of the entire liturgical year, be deprived of any public acts of worship due to both civic and ecclesiastical reaction to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The most painful and distressing of these is the deprivation of Holy Mass and sacramental Holy Communion.”
He refers to the “denial of fundamental human rights of freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and freedom of opinion” and to the “sanitary dictatorship,” and “political dictatorship” which has enveloped the world.
Persecution is nothing new in the Church. Bp. Schneider says:
“The current situation of the prohibition of public worship in Rome brings the Church back to the time of an analogous prohibition issued by the pagan Roman emperors in the first centuries.”
Bp. Schneider tells us how we should react.
- Firstly, we accept that it is a trial from Divine Providence: it is in response to the ” current unprecedented crisis of the Church.”
- God uses now the merciless world “sanitary dictatorship” to purify the Church, … .” The powers of this world have now forcibly separated the faithful from their shepherds. The clergy is ordered by governments to celebrate liturgy without the people.”
- By this “purifying divine intervention“ , by being deprived of the Eucharistic Sacrifice, we may come “to see and appreciate its value more deeply”.
- He tells us that we “should not yield to frustration or melancholy”. That we “should accept this trial as an occasion of abundant graces...”
- We are in the catacombs of the underground Church, which hopefully, “will produce the new spiritual fruits of confessors of faith and of holiness.”
What to do if we can’t attend Holy Mass?
Catholic parents should gather their families in their homes:
- They could assist in their homes at a Holy Mass broadcast on television or the internet,
- Dedicate a holy hour of prayers to sanctify the Day of the Lord and to unite themselves spiritually with the Holy Masses celebrated by priests behind closed doors .
Suggested prayers by Bp. Schneider to say at home with the family:
- Prayer of the Rosary,
- Reading of the Sunday Gospel,
- Act of Contrition,
- act of Spiritual Communion,
- Prayer for all who suffer and die,
- Prayer for all who are persecuted,
- Prayer for the pope and the priests,
- prayer for the end of the current physical and spiritual epidemic.
- The Stations of the Cross on Fridays of Lent.
- “…on Sundays, parents could gather their children in the afternoon or in the evening to read to them from the Lives of the Saints, especially those stories drawn from times of persecution of the Church.“
Words of God to” strengthen all Catholics who are currently suffering from being deprived of the Holy Mass and Holy Communion”:
“Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4: 12–13)
“The Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3–4)
“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6–7).
In the time of a cruel persecution of the Church, St. Cyprian of Carthage (+258) gave the following edifying teaching on the value of patience:
“It is patience which firmly fortifies the foundations of our faith. It is this which lifts up on high the increase of our hope. It is this which directs our doing, that we may hold fast the way of Christ while we walk by His patience. How great is the Lord Jesus, and how great is His patience, that He who is adored in heaven is not yet avenged on earth! Let us, beloved brethren, consider His patience in our persecutions and sufferings; let us give an obedience full of expectation to His advent” (De patientia, 20; 24)
A sample of prayers for the Sunday domestic holy hour
(from Bp. Schneider)
The Perfect Act of Contrition:
“Oh my God! I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of Hell; But most of all because I have offended Thee, My God, Who art all-good and deserving of all my love. I firmly resolve, with the help of Thy grace, To confess my sins, to do penance, And to amend my life. Amen.” (Baltimore Catechism)
Prayer for making a Spiritual Communion:
“At Thy feet, O my Jesus, I prostrate myself, and I offer Thee the repentance of my contrite heart, which is humbled in its nothingness and in Thy holy presence. I adore Thee in the Sacrament of Thy love, the ineffable Eucharist. I desire to receive Thee into the poor dwelling that my heart offers Thee. While waiting for the happiness of sacramental Communion, I wish to possess Thee in spirit. Come to me, O my Jesus, since I, for my part, am coming to Thee! May thy love embrace my whole being in life and in death. I believe in Thee, I hope in Thee, I love Thee. Amen”
Prayers of the Angel of Fatima:
“My God, I believe, I adore, I trust, and I love Thee! I ask pardon for those who do not believe, do not adore, do not trust and do not love Thee. Most Holy Trinity, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, I adore Thee profoundly. I offer Thee the Most Precious Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity of Jesus Christ, present in all the tabernacles of the world, in reparation for the outrages, sacrileges, and indifference by which He is offended. And through the infinite merit of His Most Sacred Heart, and the Immaculate Heart of Mary, I beg of Thee the conversion of poor sinners. Amen.”
The Universal Prayer (attributed to Pope Clement XI)
Lord, I believe in you: increase my faith. I trust in you: strengthen my trust. I love you: let me love you more and more. I am sorry for my sins: deepen my sorrow. I worship you as my first beginning, I long for you as my last end, I praise you as my constant helper, and call on you as my loving protector.
Guide me by your wisdom, correct me with your justice, comfort me with your mercy, protect me with your power. I offer you, Lord, my thoughts: to be fixed on you; my words: to have you for their theme; my actions: to reflect my love for you; my sufferings: to be endured for your greater glory. I want to do what you ask of me: In the way you ask, for as long as you ask, because you ask it. Lord, enlighten my understanding, strengthen my will, purify my heart, and make me holy. Help me to repent of my past sins and to resist temptation in the future. Help me to rise above my human weaknesses and to grow stronger as a Christian.
Let me love you, my Lord and my God, and see myself as I really am: a pilgrim in this world, a Christian called to respect and love all whose lives I touch, those under my authority, my friends and my enemies. Help me to conquer anger with gentleness, greed by generosity, apathy by fervor. Help me to forget myself and reach out toward others. Make me prudent in planning, courageous in taking risks. Make me patient in suffering, unassuming in prosperity.
Keep me, Lord, attentive at prayer, temperate in food and drink, diligent in my work, firm in my good intentions. Let my conscience be clear, my conduct without fault, my speech blameless, my life well-ordered. Put me on guard against my human weaknesses. Let me cherish your love for me,
Keep your law, and come at last to your salvation. Teach me to realize that this world is passing, that my true future is the happiness of heaven, that life on earth is short, and the life to come eternal. Help me to prepare for death with a proper fear of judgment, but a greater trust in your goodness. Lead me safely through death to the endless joy of heaven. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Hymn and prayer to Our Lady, the star of heaven
The Star of heaven, who breastfed the Lord, extirpated the plague planted by the first parent of men.
This star may now deign to restrain the stars who with their wars kill the people with the mortal cruel ulcer.
O most pious star of the sea, deliver us from the plague. Hear us, o Lady, for your Son, who denies nothing to you, honors you. O Jesus, save us, for whom your Virgin Mother prays!
- In all our tribulations and anguishes,
- Succour us, o most pious Virgin Mary.
Let us pray. God of mercy, God of love, God of forgiveness, you have compassion over the affliction of your people and you said to the Angel who was striking your people: Stay your hand out of love of that glorious Star, at whose precious breasts you sweetly sucked to remedy the poison of our trespasses. Grant the help of your grace and we shall be surely and mercifully delivered from any plague, of unprepared death and of any perditious attack. Through you, Jesus Christ, the King of Glory, the Savior of the world, who lives and reigns forever. Amen.
See Bp. Schneider’s complete article at: https://onepeterfive.com/we-glory-in-tribulations-living-the-faith-when-public-worship-is-prohibited/