It’s quite simple, really. First, find out or be told a priest in your diocese is offering public Masses on the sly. Then, attend said Mass. So what if your bishop has suspended all public Masses in your diocese? Screw that. Why should you be any better than Luther, Calvin, or Wesley?
A friend texted me last week that a priest in my archdiocese will be offering Mass, in case I was interested. I asked, is it a public Mass, to which she responded she assumed it was. I replied, “It seems to me a priest offering a public Mass when the archbishop has suspended all public Masses is being disobedient to his bishop.”
If I’m coming off as holier-than-thou, well, that’s on you not me. The holier-than-thou folks are those feeling entitled to attend such Masses, or are feeling persecuted, as if we’re living under the 2nd century Roman Empire. I truly and deeply miss receiving the Eucharist and worshiping with the community during this time, like so many other Catholics. But disobedience to legitimate authority – and last time I checked, the Church remains apostolic, so a bishop’s authority is still legit – in the time of plague is still disobedience. Christ was obedient unto death – but I’m to be disobedient unto annoyance? Give me a break.
Here’s my advice, free of charge. Don’t disobey your bishop in this. Don’t become a Protestant. Offer up your suffering for the poor souls in Purgatory, and trust that this too shall pass. Your 1st amendment rights aren’t being suppressed. Are the movie theatres still closed? Are concert venues shut down? Are sporting events still canceled? If the answer to all the above is yes, then you still have freedom of religion. It’s not as if only secular events are permitted, while religious ones aren’t. Masses are livestreamed, Bible studies are held online, and priests offer private Masses every day (and they aren’t being rounded up and arrested, either). You can pray your rosary in public. You can wear Christian symbols without opposition. You can protest in front of an abortion clinic.*
And if a nearby diocese begins to offer Masses before yours does, stay home. Obey. Your. Bishop. Be like St Pio. The restrictions his bishop enacted were far more egregious, unfair, and quite unjust. Yet he submitted to legitimate authority, quietly and prayerfully, and was rewarded.
Another thing about these clandestine Masses. What irks me is the secrecy – the sense of belonging to an exclusive club, to which only privileged individuals are allowed membership. The Mass is for EVERY CATHOLIC, not merely for those with insider information. Such exclusivity doesn’t belong in the Church. It wounds the Body of Christ, creating disunity and division. And crap like that pisses me off.
One more bit of unsolicited advice: if you decide to attend a secret public Mass, please don’t tempt your friends into sinning with you. “Love your neighbor” and all that, y’know? Should someone say: “Psst! I know where a Mass is being held. Wanna go?”, don’t be afraid to tell them “No thanks, I’m not a Protestant.”
*I fully believe, however, that those Christian communities who offered “drive-in” services and were fined by city/county officials, had their freedom of religion rights violated, and I am glad to see the DOJ is taking those cases seriously.
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