Abortion Jargon, Obedience, and Whether I Just Want to Kill All Priests: The Catholic + Coronavirus Can of Worms

by | May 11, 2020 | Can of Worms, Catholic Living, Sacraments | 122 comments

I was hoping to get a conversation started with my previous post. That definitely happened.

I Like to Think That I Would Die for Jesus

I was impressed with the general tone of the dialog. I did have to delete some comments for breaking my long-standing rules against insults and speculating on people’s motivations or what they really mean. But, overall, I saw thoughtful comments from people with differing opinions, and that’s a very good thing. I know this is a contentious issue, and that I set some folks on edge right off the bat with the sensational title. If you didn’t get a chance to wade through the nearly one thousand comments here on the blog and over on Facebook, I wanted to share some clarifications, requests, and considerations inspired by the combox.

Do I think I’m a martyr?

I apologize that it sounded to some as if I thought someone would be a martyr if he was to choose to go to Mass, contract the Coronavirus, and die. I do not believe that, and I didn’t say it in so many words. My intent was to highlight the fact that many martyrs have died to have access to the sacraments and have died protecting the Blessed Sacrament itself. That shows me that the sacraments are real, and that they are important enough that people have chosen martyrdom for them. Because I believe that, I am willing to accept reasonable risks to my health to have access to them. I understand that when one accepts risks to health, one is ultimately accepting the risk of death. I understand that there are risks to others as well, and I think we should take steps to mitigate those risks as much as possible.

If the sacraments are just symbolic then certainly they aren’t worth any risk at all. But if we believe what we say we believe, then the reward of the sacraments is worth some risk. And I’d argue that since the sacraments could all take place outside, with hand washing/sanitizing and social distancing, and without singing, the risks could be less than they are for going to the grocery store.

And the reward, seen from an eternal perspective is much much greater.

Isn’t this a “pro-life” issue?

No. Please, hear me out, but . . . NO. If you, like me, pray for an end to legal abortion of babies and legal euthanasia of the sick, disabled, and elderly, I beg you to stop using abortion debate jargon in other disagreements. Accusing someone of not being “pro-life” because they are comfortable with a different level of risk than you are isn’t appropriate. Invoking “bodily autonomy” against stay at home orders is an enormously bad idea if you actually care about the rights of the unborn.

Updated to add, from a response to a comment on FB,

Here’s my reasoning . . . from a practical standpoint, it’s being used in this particular case to shut down discussion. I say, here are my reasons for thinking what I think, and someone says, you can’t think that, you’re not pro-life! Which is not good conversation. By any metric, being “pro-life” can’t mean you think you can make it so no one will die. So what we should be discussing is risk, and what risks are worth taking for which people and for what rewards.

Second update: There is more on this subject in the comments.

Fine, call it what you will, but don’t you want people to NOT DIE?

Yes, I do want that. God wanted that. In the Garden of Eden, there was no death. But now, as a result of original sin, disease, decay, and death are a part of this life. By the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the cross, we have the hope of eternal life in heaven to look forward to, where there is no suffering and no death. But there’s just no getting around the fact that we are all at risk of death at all times from any number of causes. The question we are looking at now (whether we realize it or not) is just risk versus reward.

Before all this virus stuff, I chose to risk my own life and the lives of my children, other motorists, and passers by whenever I drove my car. But we considered that acceptable because the reward is high enough and the risk is low enough. The husband is “essential” and leaving the house to work. We consider that risk acceptable, because he is in healthcare and helping others, and he is earning a paycheck, which is useful for us at home. My seventeen year old son does the grocery shopping for us and for friends who aren’t willing or able to go themselves. There’s a risk, but the reward is food in the house.

So, now . . . the sacraments. If I knew that, for instance, the host was poisoned and I would certainly die, would I receive it? No. My faith does not require that of me. But certainly the sacraments are worth SOME level of risk. I believe that the sacraments are real and efficacious and that they are worth a risk at least equal to what I would accept to get money or food.

People who are more vulnerable to the virus, or those who live with or care for them, are able to accept less risk in all areas of life, and have always had recourse to a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass, and to acts of contrition and spiritual communion in lieu of confession and communion. I fully support that, and would certainly use those options myself, even were Masses available, if I or a loved one was sick.

Four Effective Ways for Catholics to Pray When Separated from Mass and the Sacraments

The fact that some particularly vulnerable people will choose to take the risk of attending Mass is definitely a pastoral concern, but not being willing to trust the prudential judgment of individual adults and families leads to an impossible situation all around. If Masses are offered in an area, some vulnerable people will choose to come. If Masses aren’t offered in an area some people will travel to other dioceses and crowd Masses there, or leave for other rites or schismatic groups, or abandon the faith entirely. If we take responsibility for one, we have to be willing to take responsibility for the other as well.

Grocery stores are offering special shopping hours for seniors, with fewer people allowed inside. Surely we could come up with creative solutions for the sacraments as well. In important ways the logistics actually favor the sacraments, since, with the permission of the bishops, they could all potentially be moved outside, which appears to be safer than indoors, especially inside air-conditioned buildings. It’s less easy to move supermarkets outside.

What about particularly vulnerable priests? Do I want all priests to be dead?

I think individual bishops and priests should make individual decisions for individual circumstances. It’s possible that particular communities would be without their priest for his safety, but that seems preferable to a one-size-fits-all solution that doesn’t allow any priests to minister to their flocks. (The situation in my diocese.)

There’s a noteworthy disconnect in the general narrative here. Doctors and nurses who are working are heroes. (Agreed.) Grocery store employees and Grubhub drivers who are coming to work are also heroes. (Okay, sure.) But a priest who wants to observe safe practices as much as possible while still providing the sacraments and other pastoral care to his parishioners is considered reckless. “He might get the virus! He might spread the virus! He needs to stay home and stay safe!”

A priest willing to take risks to attend to the spiritual needs of those in his care is OF COURSE a hero. Perhaps the secular media can’t see that. But we should. And may God preserve all our priests. But a noble death in the service of others is a great consolation to those left behind. If we believe what we say we believe about eternal life then we allow priests to take risks and make heroic choices in the same way that doctors and nurses and Amazon delivery guys are doing.

Can’t I just be patient?

Yes. But, just so you know where I’m coming from . . . In Los Angeles, Masses can be attended by a priest and media support people only, church doors are locked, adoration is not permitted, confessions are allowed only in danger of death, drive up confessions are specifically prohibited, marriages and baptisms are not permitted, the faithful cannot visit the graves of their loved ones at Catholic cemeteries. Catholics face a stricter lock down here, in a city with 1500 deaths, than in New York City that has had over 21K deaths. Some of these restrictions are by government mandate, some are extra precautions taken by our bishops.

What I would like to see from our government is an acknowledgment that the practice of our faith is at least phase 2 essential. (It’s not currently considered so in California.) I’d like to see us politely advocating for that.

Can’t I just be obedient?

Sure. But, as I have not taken a vow of silence, obedience doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to say anything about it. My concern is twofold: the message the bishops are getting from the faithful, and the message the faithful are getting from the bishops.

First, the bishops are human and can be just as susceptible to the 24 hour news cycle as other people. The media narrative is that physical safety should be our number one concern. If our bishops believe that their top priority must be our physical safety above all else, then they are going to make decisions based on that. As of this weekend, church services are permitted by the state of Iowa (where my sister lives). But the bishops of Des Moines have decided to continue the suspension of all Masses throughout the state. They feel they cannot ensure the health and safety of all. Those bishops should hear us say: “Thank you for caring so much about us, but please allow your priests to come up with creative solutions. Allow individual priests and members of the faithful to assess the risk in their circumstances and decide how and if they receive the sacraments. We want you to care about the needs of our souls as much as our bodies.”

Being Weird Catholics: Seven Ways We Help Our Family Believe in the Real Presence

Which leads me to my other concern, which is that we know that the majority of buns in the pews already do not believe in the Real Presence. They already are not familiar with the Precepts of the Church. They already don’t avail themselves of confession. I wonder what will be the long term fallout from our bishops telling us: just watch the Mass on TV, just talk to God about your sins, there’s no hurry on baptism, you don’t have to receive communion during the Easter season. I believe in the authority of the pope to grant indulgences (and who loves and promotes indulgences more than I?!) and in the authority of the bishops to grant dispensations. But all of this that we believe about the sacraments is already so hard to believe, and actions speak so loudly. If the bishops tell us by their actions that the sacraments are not worth any level of physical risk, then that is the level of value the faithful will put on them, and then everything is just symbols and we are Protestants.

Catholic Indulgences: what they are, when they are, and why you should care (as of the 1999 Manual of Indulgences revision of the Enchiridion of Indulgences)

I want to hear them say, not, “Our priests are old and can’t risk their health,” but “We have a task force of young priests setting up mobile outdoor confessions for you.” Not, “All baptisms are cancelled,” but, “Baptisms are a priority, but we want to do them as safely as possible, so we are offering the old school practice of a baptism as soon as possible after birth with just the baby and the father and the priest and the godparents. We’re going to annoint, sprinkle, light the candle, and get out of there. No parties, but lots of removing of the stain of original sin.” This is a chance to witness to the fact that the sacraments are real and efficacious and that they are worth some level of risk to provide and obtain. And I’m worried that’s just not the message folks are getting.

Am I an idiot? Do I even know what I’m talking about?

I don’t know. Maybe to both. Pray for me.


  1. Sarah

    That last part made me laugh! Thank you thank you thank you for following up and clearing this up. Hearing your perspective on what’s going on where you live was particular helpful. The Bishops and priests here in Louisiana are very creative. Maybe y’all should move here?

    • Kendra

      I mean, or at least swing by. ROAD TRIP!

      • Aimee

        Yes! Come visit us!! Fr. Bryce is our pastor. So much creativity in our diocese!!

          • Aimee Landreneau

            Gosh, me too. What a gift we have been gift these last ten years!

    • Felícita Barron

      I absolutely and completely agree!! Where is the passion for our faith??!!!
      Here in Texas we were allowed to have Mass open to the public, with every other pew roped off, and keeping our distance … I had an entire pew to myself. My son served and we all had to wear masks. We were also asked to receive in the hand.. but I genuinely forgot when it was my turn and lowered my mask and opened my mouth and my priest actually flinched as if to pull the Host back, but allowed me to receive on the tongue. I must say I felt awful.. I was just so wrapped up in my thoughts and prayers and just did as I usually do. Many prayers for all the states to see that church is essential for us. Thank goodness for people
      Like you who can communicate my sentiments so well!

      • Faith

        I think the fact that you accidentally forgot illustrates why many want to be extra cautious. Hopefully, the priest sanitized his hand before presenting the host to the next person. I think the goal with the more stringent lock done rules is to limit the amount of times when accidentally forgetting could create unsafe situations. Because we are all human and thus are forgetful.

    • Leigh-Anne

      Yes! We have outdoor Masses in Louisiana and my Parish Priest is offering a private (10 person)Mass for each first Communicant. My son is receiving this Friday. I think it speaks volumes to all of us in my Parish that the Eucharist and Sacraments deserve “some risk” as you put it..(.he is following all safety precautions masks, 6feet, etc.) because of their eternal benefit.

    • Bird and Bee Academy

      Just a thoughtfrom a Protestant sister: even those whoe believe that the sacraments are symbolic (to one degree or another) still want and need to be able to go to church because Jesus didnt only tell us to receive him in communion, he also told us to *not cease to gather together to worship*, for all the myriad reasons we gather to worship: sacraments, spiritual renewal, teaching and edification, community, iron-sharpens-iron discipleship, the sharing of the gospel, praising God as a body through song, public reading of the word, communal prayer, works of service, the list goes on. I have been fine with not gathering for a time to allow this curve tk flatten, but at some point the denial lf thr essential human right to assemble for worship cannot be denied indefiniteltly without a quality of life deficiet, especially for those who are emotionally vulnerable and rely on said community for support. So just tk say, you dont even have tk believe in transubstantiation to feel the need to reopen churches in some way or fashion (outdoor services? 1/3 capacity and multiple services, etc). Thanks for speaking up.

      • Kendra

        Yes, good point. I don’t mean to disregard the sacrifice this is for people of every faith and denomination!

    • Ashley Dennis

      This is an amazing post! Thank you for writing this. I feel the exact same way but was unable to express it so beautifully and clearly.

  2. Gina

    Yes! 100% yes. Well said, Kendra. The care of the soul is of utmost importance and it is so sad (also distressing to me) that thousands are without access to the Sacraments or even to prayer in the Churches.

    In our diocese, we have open church doors. Our parish has extended Adoration times–something I appreciate more than ever.

  3. Emily

    the last question…

    Thanks for speaking up. I completely agree with your thoughts.

  4. Kathleen

    Kendra, It seems to me, what you are saying here is quite sensible. All this talk of „safety“ has distracted us from the reality that life is never safe: it is unpredictable, risky, and ultimately fatal. Our goal should be not be safety-which is not a virtue and is ultimately unattainable. A much better goal is prudence, which assesses the situation based on a variety of factors and then makes a judgement. Perhaps it is because prudence relies on the judgement of individuals or families or individual parishes, schools, etc. that we are uncomfortable with it. Perhaps we are more comfortable with the „authorities“ making those decisions for us.

    • Kendra

      Yes. You make an excellent point about prudence. Interesting to consider that it’s a virtue, and therefore secular members of government are unlikely to have practiced and developed it and so have recourse to it in a crisis.

    • CK

      Prudence! I have never used that word as much as in the last two months! We pray every night for prudence for our church and government leaders. We need a series on the virtue of prudence to counter so much of what is “going wrong” with the world right now!

  5. Kris

    This is a fantastic response, Kendra! Thank you for articulating so well feelings I have. I pray constantly for our Church and for the realization that Mass and the Sacraments are essential. I miss them both so much. It is ok to have fear, but Christ told us to have courage in that fear and He gave us the Holy Spirit to combat it with creativity and perseverance!
    Peace be with you!

  6. Fatima Spoor

    Thank you yet again! I recently came across this reading from part of the Life of St. Charles Borromeo and it’s amazing to hear/read how he dealt with such a similar situation. Seems like another place we could follow the example of another saint. There really is nothing new under the sun after all. https://youtu.be/t5mlFTxegzg

    • Kendra

      Thank you for the link. This is the second time this has been recommended to me. I’m going to have to listen!

    • Silvia

      St. Charles Borromeo is patron Saint of Lombardy, the italian region worst injuried by Covid 19 (and where I live, in Milan) <3 <3

      • Sara

        Another reader from Italy here…

        Thanks for this second post. I have to admit I didn’t like your first post, I thought your suggestions were not prudent. But then I realized that California has stricter lockdown rules than Italy when it comes to churches and sacraments, and it seems absurd given the emergency that we’ve been facing here. Our churches were never locked and we’re going back to public Masses this week.

        From your words, it seems that in the US there are also additional concerns. None of my Catholic friends in Italy is worried about the lockdown undermining people’s faith in the sacraments or in the Real Presence, or the obligation to go to church on Sunday. Maybe because those Italians who don’t believe in the Real Presence already don’t go to church! But those who go, do so because they believe. I hope this makes sense…

  7. Carrie

    Amen! Agree to all of that. Thanks for speaking up. We are recent converts from the Protestant faith and have been so disappointed to find out that Catholics feel nothing different than what I came from. Thank you for your courage in sharing

    • Rebecca Enriquez

      Thank you thank you! I am in LA Archdiocese as well (Ventura County) and I have definitely shed many a tear feeling like my children (10 of them) are learning that watching Mass on t.v. is a good substitute for the real thing. Of course I talk to them about it, but when the Church is saying that it is hmmmpf- actions speak louder then words. And I get it- at the beginning of all this, I spoke with my kids about how we need to protect the elderly and it was an act of charity, but come on! This has dragged on way to long without the manifestation of the horrible terrible very bad thing that was going to happen.
      And what does gov’t tell us now? Hang on– its still coming. Do they think we are THAT stup*d? I almost feel like an orphan who has no Mother Church to speak up for her when bad people (gov’t) are hurting me (us). Where is the Church to defend our NEED for the Eucharist and other Sacraments.
      Thank you for speaking up, I pray Archbishop Gomez hears you (and reads these comments!)

  8. Erin


    I admire your courage and clarity in challenging the prevalent fear in society today, all while respecting the real suffering of those who have died or are at increased risk.

    I did not realize how suffocating the regulations were in your Archdiocese. In mine, private baptisms and marriages have continued throughout the quarantine,

    Because of your post last week, I realized that the benefit of receiving the Eucharist outweighed the risk and fear of the last two months. I was able to do so last weekend (our priest makes it available if one chooses to receive) and it was transformative. Jesus truly is my best friend and his presence is REAL ❤️

    Thanks for your words that resonated with what I was thinking and moved me to act!

    • Kendra

      You’re welcome and thank you for your kind words. How beautiful that you were able to receive!

  9. Bridget Stalla

    Thank you, as always for your witness, and kind, humorous, and loving voice. Mother Mary intercede for us! Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!

  10. Cris

    Wow I didn’t realize how strict the lockdown was in California. I appreciate your advocating for safe access to the sacraments because that is life giving . In Michigan churches are open all but public mass is available to the faithful . I will be praying for our bishops and priests to find a way to allow us to have access to Jesus in the Eucharist and for you in all the sacraments

  11. Margie Donofrio

    Thank you Kendra. Beautifully stated. Im right there with you.
    God bless you!

  12. Au

    Thank you, I love this response, possibly even more than your original can-o-worms post I completely agree and I have the utmost sympathy for all of you under more stringent bans from the sacraments. Here in Virginia we have continued to have access to confession, baptism, and sometimes adoration, which has helped tremendously! This weekend our Byzantine Catholic parish hopes to have Divine Liturgy outdoors in a drive-in format with Communion. We’ll definitely be offering up our Liturgy for all Catholics prevented from attending Mass/Liturgy ❤️ Hopefully the example helps encourage other bishops to take courage and start bringing back the sacraments to the people.

    • Kendra

      Thank you for that! Our local Byzantine Catholic church is doing better than Roman rite parishes. I could live with these guidelines until the state government comes around: http://protocathedralso.org/

  13. Amanda

    I agree with almost everything you say here, but I actually come to a different conclusion.

    To me, it’s not about avoiding getting sick although we are doing that bc my husband is high risk. Rather it’s Bout making sure others don’t die if the healthcare system gets overloaded.

    Yes we can decide for ourselves, but if we partake in activities that increase the risk to others by potentially overwhelming the system, then we are taking other people’s lives into our hands.

    I’m in Illinois. Our situation is a bit better. We have outdoor Confession. We don’t have Adoration, but church doors are now open. We have been allowed outside blessing with the Eucharist and holy water for the past two weeks.

    Yes risks can be mitigated, and we should be allowed to have some sort of gathering when we figure that out. People are speculating ways to do that.

    I guess after reading your post, I see again the false dichotomy that partisans are putting us in. As you point out, it’s not deciding between 1000 people at one Mass versus none at all. There’s somewhere in between. But we can’t find it in normal discourse because the powers that be benefit from division.

    So you kind of changed my opinion. Thank you 🙂

    • Kendra

      Thank you! And I know it’s especially hard for those who must decide for themselves that they still have to stay away from the sacraments when others regain access. But we do have to be prudent in our own circumstances.

    • KM

      Where in Illinois?? We are in the suburbs and have nothing available to us right now.

  14. Mary

    My painfully honest reaction to both of these posts has been that I think you are right, and I am a coward. The sacraments ARE the true contact-point with God — and I’m scared to get them. I’m in a diocese that thankfully still had confession throughout this time, so I have availed myself of that, trading off with my husband. We’ve even taken our oldest, who had his first confession just before this all started.

    But Mass scares me. And I am really struggling with that in the countdown to my state’s Phase I opening. The bishop didn’t lift the dispensation, but the Eucharist would be available… so the choice is on me. The weight of the decision just throws my mind into shame and chaos every time I confront it.

    • Kelly

      Oh, dear Mary, be of good cheer! Our Lord is Risen and faithful! He will help you with any fear you feel-talk to Him about it as a dear child to her father. He will be with you. Our priest has been reminding us throughout all of this that fear and turmoil and confusion are not from God, and to place out trust in Him to help us though!

    • Kendra

      I’m so sorry for your struggle, Mary, and I know you are not alone. I would suggest speaking with a trusted priest or other spiritual director if you can. And to bring your fears to God. When I am facing a decision like this I tell God that if he wants me to do it, he needs to help ME want to do it!

      • Taryn B

        Thank you for your well-written thoughts. I appreciate them. We are in Bellevue, Neb where they have opened up Mass again. I rejoice but almost feel guilty that I get to partake. The Bishop said each parish can decide for itself if and how to open up public Mass and I love that. And there are still restrictions: each family group must be six feet away from another group, no mingling before or after Mass, etc. Some churches have decided not to open yet. The one we went to is having more Masses (we moved here at the end of March and don’t have a church home yet) and has everyone sit in every third row and everyone must wear a mask. It’s a gift to be back and I pray the Lord’s grace on us all

        • Taryn B

          I didn’t mean to respond to a comment. Oops!

  15. Katie Heath

    As usual, so well written, thank you. In the Archdiocese of Denver, Mass resumed last Sunday (Mother’s Day) with most parishes having “parking lot” Masses. Our confessions and most Adoration was never suspended (just made more “safe”), Baptisms and Marriages could still happen with very few people.

    I agree with you on all points. Life itself is not “safe”, nor has it ever been. Safety is not guaranteed to us anywhere.

    And, no…you’re not an idiot, and yes…you do know what you’re talking about:)

  16. Anne Thomas

    I agree with you 100 percent. I have been thinking of all the times the Church has been underground, persecuted by governments, denied meetings and masses. Isn’t the Eucharist worth risking our lives for? Why are we so complacent? I am beginning to get restless…

    • Hannah

      Amen. Christians all over the world risk death and torture from oppressive governments, just to meet together to worship God.
      May God soften our (my!) hearts to want Him more than temporal comforts or safety.

  17. Yvonne Kidder

    Thank you. Sometimes.you think you are all alone in the world. I’ve had this conversation with many devout Catholics and they all give me those same arguments. I appreciate your writing this.

  18. Sylvia

    Again I completely agree with you! Thank you for stating what I believe others think too but are so sad to think or say.

  19. Colleen Martin

    Loved this post and your last…my husband has been preaching this from the rooftops (he’s a theology teacher). We firmly believe that our priests should be soldiers for Our Lord, willing to literally run into battle to give sacraments to the wounded. We applaud the priests who ran into the towers on 9/11 to save lives, who visit the sick and dying even when they have contagious diseases, who minister to the loneliest and poorest of parishioners in need. Where are the men? Who will fight the wars? I want to be the type of Catholic who will willingly die for Christ, but I need good examples of that around me, leading me, and teaching me. God, I want the Eucharist so bad! I want my niece baptized and my son confirmed and my friends married. We need to get on with living, even if that means people will get the virus. My Brother-in-law is an ER doctor in a hospital in Boston, and the hospitals are literal ghost towns and failing financially during this time they were supposed to be overrun with patients. The projections were off! We need a herd immunity! And we need Our Lord! (Also, my Dad always told me (as a germaphobic child) that Jesus wouldn’t allow the spreading of germs with His most Sacred Body, and I still fully believe that!)

    • Kendra

      Who is thinking about all the theology professors with no outlet . . . and the families isolated with them? Who is solving THAT problem?! 😉

      • Lisa

        Thank you. I really appreciate both posts, and agree with everything. I’m weary of everyone taking the pro-life label and using as a stick to beat anyone who disagrees with their pet issues with. It’s tempting to just throw up my hands and yell that I’m not pro-life, if pro-life means EARTHLY life at all costs, no matter what, is most important. Because I do not believe that. Shouldn’t we count everything, even life, as RUBBISH compared to gaining Christ? Anyway, my husband has actually started saying, “I’m not pro-life, I’m pro-justice.” It covers all the bases. But comes with it’s own problems. Ah well, I appreciate your sanity in all this. It’s encouraging to me.

        • Lisa

          Sorry, I didn’t mean to reply to a comment. I guess my comment above looks rather out of place. Oops.

        • Kendra

          Hah! That’s pretty good.

  20. Mary Ann

    No, Kendra, you are definitely not an idiot, and you certainly do know what you are talking about. I agree with you completely.
    It was announced by my diocese (Bridgeport, CT) yesterday, that outdoor Masses will begin on May 21, the Ascension of our Lord. It will be a gradual return, and each pastor has been asked to draft a plan for his parish.
    We still need to pray for our bishops and government leaders, and they do need to hear from us that Mass and the sacraments are essential.
    Thank you for all you are doing!

  21. Amanda

    We just went to outdoor Confession last weekend and I was willing to drive to a parish 30 min away to be outdoors. And the church just offered to finish the baby’s baptism rite. And do a private mass for my daughter’s FHC. It’s hard not to feel fearful even of that for me, but I’m willing to accept this much risk, and then stay home in case we’re sick. I take the baby to her appointments – this is quite a bit more important than that.

  22. Lisa Frecker

    Thank you, Kendra! I have to admit that, both in secular circles and Catholic ones, I’m feeling totally overwhelmed by the conflicting opinions I’m hearing. My views and opinions are consistently changing as I learn more and it isn’t easy. Thank you for a fresh well-articulated balanced perspective. Some day I hope to be able to articulate what I believe about it all.

    Where I am in Indiana, churches are opening for private prayer and confession tomorrow (May 13), for daily Masses Tuesday May 19, and for Sunday Masses May 23-24. There are still precautions in place, but we’re so excited!

  23. Sophia

    You really are spectacular! You’re brave, well-spoken, and candid. Surely God has given you gifts that you so adeptly share with the world to make it a better place. I am not of your faith, but Christian, and your sharing gives me courage to also stand for the cause of Christ in my own ways, in my own sphere. While we don’t put ourselves on par with the early martyrs, certainly they possessed these qualities, which are worthy of our emulation, even if only to a small degree. And I suppose if everyone agreed with you, you’d know you were doing something wrong (refer to aforementioned martyrs).

  24. Peter Nguyen

    Hi Kendra, I thought this was very well-written and agreeable on all points.

    Something that I would love to add is that efficacious grace comes from the Mass. If concern about the well-being of priests was a prominent situation, priests could publically celebration Mass without the reception of the Eucharist, which is not strictly necessary (while the sacraments of baptism, confession, and annointing of the sick are absolutely necessary). In that manner, Jesus in the Eucharist receives utmost reverence (bringing the attention of the True Presence to the laity) while removing any distancing or contact concerns on behalf of the priest (or the congregation, for that matter).

    • Kendra

      Yes, this is a good point. I think offering Masses without communion might be a prudent step in some places.

      • Faith

        Yes, this is a great idea!

  25. Kelly

    Thank you, Kendra, for both posts! I truly believe you are saying what MUST be said, and you are one with a platform to get the word out quite well! May God continue to keep you and your family in His care.

  26. Denise

    You are not an idiot!! YOU are a voice of reason helping us sort through all of this. Thank YOU!!!! And yes…. I will pray for you. Please pray for me!

  27. Becky

    All the YESES!!

    Thank you. You write with so much clarity! It is a real gift to your readers.

  28. Louise

    Kendra, this post was spot on. THANK YOU! I am in the archdiocese of Newark (NJ) and I believe we may be the most restricted in the country (since mid-March). Even NYC has open churches (no mass or anything but you can visit). Most disappointing is the lack of any attempt to be creative. Yes, North Jersey was hit hard but, for example, my daughter has a local priest friend who was prohibited from performing last rites for a parishioner because he died of the coronavirus. The priest was broken-hearted not to be allowed to attend him. Even Chicago figured out a way to allow last rites for COVID-19 patients! I have friends who are “burying” loved ones on Zoom – funeral masses are on hold. We are not allowed in Catholic cemeteries except at certain prescribed times and then with all precautions and limited numbers. We have no end in sight. Forget about baptisms and marriages, first communions and confirmations. It’s very disheartening. There are accomodations that could easily be made but there is no permission to do so from the top. I guess my point is – at some point it stops being about safety and more about control and fear of litigation. Thanks for letting me vent! I really appreciated your article.

    • Kendra

      So heartbreaking to hear about that priest! And yes, Catholic cemeteries have been locked here as well. They just reopened for two hours per week, I think?

    • Kimberly

      “Yes, North Jersey was hit hard but, for example, my daughter has a local priest friend who was prohibited from performing last rites for a parishioner because he died of the coronavirus. The priest was broken-hearted not to be allowed to attend him.”

      This is the sort of thing that I cannot wrap my brain around. I’ve also heard of spouses and children being unable to be at their dying loved one’s side due to hospital rules currently in place. I feel that priests and family members are more important than nurses in those circumstances, and I’m horrified that some places have removed access to the most important people at the most critical time.

  29. Catalina

    WOW. How I wish to meet you in person. This is absolutely on point. Last Sunday our two boys received their First Holy Communion. It was just a small group. Lots of social distancing, a beautiful ceremony, very austere, and filled with meaning.
    The best gift we could give to those that came was the Plenary Indulgence , a traditional First Communion gift that the Church gives to first communicants and their families …No party, no big celebrations only coming back home and eating a nice cake and crowning Our Lady. When My other 4 children received, I was so stressed about the reunion at home that I missed many graces that It brings … this time, 20 years later, we could truly grasp and understand the TRUE meaning of receiving JESÚS for the very first time.
    Thank you Kendra, for being loud amidst so many sleeping souls…

    • Kendra

      Yes! I love this perspective. The First Communion plenary indulgence is such a beautiful gift! And I think a simple, careful First Communion is a powerful witness to our children and our communities.

  30. Louise Riccobene

    Actually starting next Monday (May 18) they are letting us in for 3 hours a day! From 3 to 6 pm. A miracle. I’ll take it. I like going there because it is very large and one place where you can see the sky. We have a lot of trees here. Plus I can visit my dad again : )

  31. Diana

    This was well stated! Thank you! I, too, live in California, a diocese with 50 deaths and we are just beginning to see some activity. Two parishes are allowing Confessions and we were able to receive the Eucharist on Divine Mercy Sunday at the Cathedral (I believe they offered the Eucharist on Easter). I believe CA is waiting for Los Angeles and the Bay Area to reopen for Mass. I know our bishops are working on this, although I would love not to wait for the whole state.

  32. Hope

    I am also here in LA, but I’m hesitant to contact the bishop. I don’t know how to address him respectfully, or how to articulate my thoughts as clearly as you.
    But I would love to see more sacraments being offered, and I totally agree with all your points. I would also like to see more honesty from the diocese, proclaiming the importance and real misfortune of having to cancel sacraments, and acknowledging that some of our precautions are to avoid litigation and bad press. These things are damaging to the Church as well, and I think it would be easier to swallow if we, the faithful, felt they were being honest about the reason for closure, instead of just equating the real thing to a facebook livestream. All this to say, do you know of a pre-form letter, or would you be willing to write one up, and then the rest of us here could pass it along and send it individually to our church leaders? I don’t know any of the formalities of address, and others are better at being articulate and succinct. Thanks again!

    • Kendra

      Yes. I agree! My oldest son is on the waiting list for Harvard for next year, and we got this letter from the Provost. I was really struck by how it addresses not only health and safety, but all the other intangibles at risk for students if Harvard decides they are unable to open the campus in the fall. It assures us that they are working hard for us and they GET that distance learning is not the same and not as good, but if they have to continue with it, they will work to make it better. I want very much to get a letter like this from my bishops, rather than a town hall meeting featuring parenting tips and mental health advice from laypeople.

      But anyway, practical letter writing advice! I really like the sample letter here at The Nicasius Project. Their advice for writing a letter of complaint to a bishop (available as a pdf here) is:
      1. Address the letter to “Your Excellency, Bishop (insert name)”
      2. The Church calls us to presume good will, unless proven otherwise. Do not use language that corrects, chastises, or accuses. Assume the actions were made in good will, and begin the letter making this apparent.
      3. Assure the bishop of your prayers. Many of these decisions are not made lightly, and we should make them aware of our prayers (and fasting) for them. You can link your prayers/fasting to a specific request (i.e. we are praying and fasting for you, dear bishop, and for the return of the sacraments in our diocese)
      4. Use positive language, do not accuse. If the bishop feels like you have condemned him already with the words you use, he will be more inclined to ignore what you are say.
      5. Allow yourself to be vulnerable, without being overly emotional about the topic. You can share that you feel hurt, abandoned, etc, but don’t make this the point around which your entire letter revolves.
      6. Suggest specific actions. Offering a reasonable resolution makes it much easier for the letter to be actionable!

    • Karianna

      Hope, I wrote a letter to the Archbishop last week and it really set my heart at ease being able to articulate how much I miss the Sacraments and how they are essential to us as Catholic Christians.

      Pray before you write, as the Holy Spirit will provide the words. Kendra already laid out the specifics (how to address, etc.) but do not be afraid to speak from your heart. I think he needs to hear from the faithful.

  33. Laura Halbur

    Awesome! Christus Nobiscum; State!

  34. Skye

    I REALLY appreciate all the clarity in this post, Kendra! I think a lot of what you proposed here is quite reasonable. I’m in NYC where it might be tough to do anything outside (no large outdoor space or parking lot), but like you said, it is possible to get creative. I think this really helped to clarify your previous post – I will admit to feeling a little lost after reading your post and all the comments. I’m definitely in the camp of not wanting to infect others (but who isn’t?!) And as I mentioned above, I’m in NYC and I hear sirens all day and night. It can feel really scary. That said, there are ways to mitigate risk with my Starbucks Iced Latte – so why not the Eucharist and other Sacraments?!?! Well said! I cannot tell you how much I appreciate your insights. Love the ending.

  35. Jenny

    “If you, like me, pray for an end to legal abortion of babies and legal euthanasia of the sick, disabled, and elderly, I beg you to stop using abortion debate jargon in other disagreements. Accusing someone of not being “pro-life” because they are comfortable with a different level of risk than you are isn’t appropriate. Invoking “bodily autonomy” against stay at home orders is an enormously bad idea if you actually care about the rights of the unborn.”

    This. Every Catholic who believes what we profess needs to read this. It’s bad theology and it’s incredibly bad philosophy. I see it more in my younger family members and friends who have, in general, marinated for much of their academic lives in the relativism that we cannot escape in our culture. Difficult to overcome under the best of circumstances, but I’m beginning to think impossible to overcome (but for divine intervention) without a foundation of critical thinking. If my kids take nothing else from their k-12 education, please, God, may it be the virtue of charity and the capacity for critical thinking. All else can be improved upon and overcome.

  36. Jen

    I think this is now a hard thing for people to talk about because it nonsensically is now about party politics. One side is now presumably about opening up society and the other is presumably about continuing more limits. And, as usual, people in the middle are caught in the crossfire. Personally, this isn’t a topic I’d choose to pursue. I’m thankful not to have the burden of these decisions and I think that the situation is vastly different in different places so I wouldn’t want to imply that something that is appropriate where I live is appropriate where others live. I also think this topic is dangerous because it is so easy to assume that people who don’t support open masses at this point don’t respect the sacraments and people who do don’t respect people’s health. To me, the only unreasonable position is a blanket statement.

    I think perhaps Kendra is trying to make the statement that Catholics who believe in the sacrament are willing to incur some risk and that this devotion is a beautiful part of the faith. I think that part of what is tricky right now is that we aren’t sure what that risk is, and that the risk is often to others rather than ourselves. How do we weigh devotion to the host to the health and safety of people we don’t know – like those we encounter at the grocery store, the delivery man, or the nurses and doctors who will take care of me when I’m sick.

    These are tricky issues and we should strive to talk about them in a respectful way. What is hard is that the stakes are so very high for some of us, and we don’t have complete information. What does faith mean at such a time? It seems like faith is just for times like these. Faith in God and also faith in each other. I don’t have a simple answer – probably all of us have to stretch our faith to believe in the goodwill of those who see a different path forward. And to pray for them and for all of us.

    • Kendra

      Yes, it’s another example of how a truly Catholic worldview doesn’t fit with a particular political party platform.

  37. Christine

    Thank you for writing this clarification! I misunderstood your previous post (or at least your intent and perspective), and this makes much more sense to me. I don’t agree with all of your opinions, but I am very glad to hear your perspective. As always, God bless you and your family!

  38. Bailey

    I somehow missed the initial post. I appreciate your thoughts on receiving the sacraments specifically and on risk generally in this time of COVID. I also appreciate your ability to state your point without condemning others.

    As a society we are moving from the phase of “everyone stay inside. Don’t do anything. Don’t go anywhere” to a phase that requires much more nuance and individual risk assessment. I’m not entirely sure that nuance is a specific strength of the general American population. In some ways, this was much easier to navigate when we were all on the same page of “flattening the curve.” Now we must navigate so much more. I think the best we can do is be thoughtful and compassionate with others and understand that people have their own comfort level when it comes to navigating this new world we find ourselves in.

  39. OrangeBlossom

    100% Yes! Thank you for your post. I’ve felt so alone in thinking the same thing!

    God Bless you

  40. Callie

    Thanks Kendra, for your clear and kind writing on this topic. I am from Iowa and I am saddened that we still have no creative ways for people to go to mass while social distancing. The letter was from all four bishops in Iowa (there’s only one Des Moines bishop). 🙂
    I know there are Protestant christians here who are figuring out ways to worship while maintaining a safe social distance, and it saddens me that the Catholic Church is not part of this, especially since the sacraments place such an emphasis on people being physically present for them. We should be at the forefront of creative solutions, especially if this quarantine business becomes a new way of life (with people needing to prepare themselves to go in and out of quarantine over the next few years). I really hope and pray that quarantine does not need to be our new normal for years to come! Thank you again, Kendra.

  41. Amy A.

    Hi Kendra, I’ve been reading you for years and I think this post was a helpful addition to your previous one. I did not realize how strict the rules were in your diocese. I’m in the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul and I think our diocese in general and our parish in particular has done a good job of continuing to offer access to the Sacraments while being prudent about people’s safety. I always feel when I’m asking someone to change what they are doing, that I should provide constructive ideas as to HOW they could change. Here are some of the things our parish is doing that I think have been beneficial, perhaps you could suggest them to your bishop or priest when you write.
    1. Masses are currently only live-streamed, but you can receive communion by appointment. There are 15 minute slots and up to 10 people can attend at a time. I have gone once so far in order to fulfill my Easter obligation, and during that 15 minute window our priest read the Gospel reading for the day, gave Communion to each person present, gave a few minutes for silent prayer and reflection, and closed with a blessing. After not receiving for over two months this was SUCH a gift! Our priest also wore a mask for the entire time.
    2. Confessions are offered as usual, but in a modified space in order to maintain social distancing.
    3. Adoration is offered in our main church rather than in our adoration chapel in order to maintain social distancing. You must also pre-register for an adoration hour, if you are not one of the regularly scheduled adorers for that time, in order to make sure there are never more than 10 people present (pre-COVID our church had 24 hour adoration, now hours have been curtailed to I think 6 AM -10 PM? But apparently the adoration slots are almost always filled now!)
    I can’t speak to any other sacraments, but I know our Archbishop has released a plan for how we might return to Mass once our shelter-in-place order expires. If you are interested you could read that on our Archdiocesan website.
    Thank you for your posts. I have been praying for your husband’s health and I will add the health of your family to my prayers.

    • Kendra

      Thank you for sharing these ideas! It’s good to know what’s working.

  42. Jean Galmish

    I think you have a well thought out approach . Access to Mass and the sacraments is essential!
    Cardinal Mueller agrees with you in his recent interview on the 7th. Peace

  43. Rita

    I have had the same thoughts about comparing this to abortion and people beginning to doubt the true presence. Thank you for writing this to clear things up.

  44. Ashley

    I think your points are thoughtful and well-written, but I think that about some of the rebuttal posts I’ve seen, too. I am glad to be obedient to my bishop and trust in the mercy of the Lord during uncertain times, and also glad I’m not making the decisions for my (or any!) diocese. The thing that really bums me out is that this (the overall issue of when and how to the sacraments, I guess) is yet another thing for Catholics to bicker about among themselves.

  45. Lina

    Bravo on your courage and willingness to speak up! I don’t know if I agree with everything you say 100%, but cheers tonCHARITABLE discourse! Blessings to you and yours. ❤️

  46. Jessica Lavan

    Thanks for your posts!
    One point to add. (I’m in Minnesota where we don’t have Mass, but can go in and pray and do have confession). I’m a doctor. I really, really want Mass, but I also know that if the virus spreads too fast my small town ICU will run out of beds and ventilators. I don’t want to have to decide which people get treated and which don’t just for lack of rooms and equipment. By slowing the spread(staying home) we can hopefully be able to treat all who are ill and won’t run out of resources. So far in my area this is working. I continue to pray for our Bishops who have an incredibly hard job making decisions in a time when so little is known and predictions are near impossible.

  47. Kellie

    That is incredibly sad about cemeteries. (All of it is really) But just about the only thing that got me through Easter was still being able to decorate my daughter’s grave. Some of these guidelines, MANY of them, just don’t make sense for the goal at hand.

    Praying for all diocese and all the wisdom to surpass understanding. I’m grateful my diocese is on the road to reopening. I received Eucharist for the first time in two months on Sunday and it was amazing!

    Praying for all the faithful.

  48. Leah

    Brava, Kendra! Well written and clarifying for anything that needed it. Thank you for welcoming respectful dialogue and raising tough topics.

  49. Katherine

    Thank you, Kendra! I really appreciate how thoughtful and good-natured you are in all this. May God bless you and your family!

  50. Michelle Counter

    Thank you for your post. So many things I have not considered here. I am in the high risk category and am pregnant with baby #6. I live in a small town a few hours from Seattle. I have been pretty busy maintaining a home and family that I haven’t considered all these thoughts. It has been a long time since I received eucharist and the sacraments – which I yearn for. Since my risk is so high, I lean on the side of caution. I did get sick when Covid exposure became widespread in Seattle after a visit to see my parents. It was very traumatic and the coughing was so terrible I hemorrhaged and ended up in the hospital and bed rest for 6 weeks until I finally began to recover. This means I haven’t received sacraments longer then most. However, I never denied my husband or children the right to go to Mass before everything came to halt. My husband works in a very busy retail store (Lowes) where business has gone up 10 fold and is pretty out of control. I prayed for more interventions and safety measures there then I have considered necessary in a Church setting. In our area the public is very out of touch with the simple safety simple precautions to keep others well. There is a large growing number of individuals that absolutely refuse to wear face masks or stay-at-home which increases risk to everyone. But again, the risk in our area is fairly low but people do travel to and from Seattle a lot. My husband has experienced staff not showing for work in order to not have to wear face masks – which I find completely absurd and a simple task to lower the risk for all. Yes, I know its inconvenient and difficult to breathe but really if hospital staff can endure the suffering an entire shift is it really that horrible? Since I am so high risk I have not been allowed to see my dying father in months – he has progressive alzheimers and lewy body disease. I fear the next time I see him he will no longer know me. I have come to the realization that I will never see my dying grandfather again as his life is coming to an end soon and he is in hospice care. These are very big struggles for me that I pray all day regarding. After reading what you have to say (and honestly I have been living selfishly and thinking only of my own risks and risk to my elderly relatives) I think you are very right. I think each individual should prudently weigh their risk and be allowed to go to Mass and receive sacraments. My baby is due next week and my risk becomes very low – thanks be to God. You better believe as soon as I can I am heading to see my dad. Now that I consider it, how better then that I can receive Jesus in the Eucharist too. I will start researching the status of my own diocese later today. Thank you for your thoughts!! It was very needed and helpful.

    • Kendra

      Thank you, Michelle. Prayers for a safe and easy delivery for you and baby!

  51. Kris Chatfield

    100% YES to all of this. We’re in the same boat in Georgia. Churches are allowed to resume this weekend, but our Bishop is saying NO until at least June 1st.

  52. Monika

    This morning, Our Lady of Fatima, my husband went ona short pilgrimage walking with a samall group, 13 people alltogether. They went walking to our nearest Cathedral, 30 kilometers away, to make a little sacrifice and offer thanksgiving for our Bishop who did not close our churches and supported all priests who wanted to withdraw from public services as well. We had a Mass every day all this time, not in all churches but all of us living in this Diocese could reach an open Church in 15 minutes max.
    Bishop Ratko Peric strong in faith, good shepherd, took care of us spiritualy advising us all to take care of eachother and follow the rules. The Church, in this yard, did not kneel before the world. My words are maybe clumsy. My English is not good enough to say it all as you might, with measure and stile, so you can delete this.
    I wanted to give some hope and light. There is conscience about the important stuff, there are good examples. We have to stay strong, not loose faith and stick to the Teachings of The Church. The Ten Commandments can not be changed, not by anyone in this world.

  53. Heathele Chambers

    I live in Portland, Oregon and our dear Archbishop seems to be way more on top of it than other parts in the country, most likely because our governor has been very clear in ongoing communication about the state of things, clear about what is going to be acceptable, and acted early and quickly with stay home orders. She worked specifically with clerical leaders of all faiths, and so Archbishop has not only allowed but encouraged outdoor confessions, unlocked churches with hand washing and wipes and limits of ten people spaced far far far apart, live adoration, and having families sign up to have rosary prayer in the church for prayer so it doesn’t feel so “empty” to the priests when they celebrate their broadcast Masses. I had no idea he was such a rebel until I heard the Matt Fradd podcast where Matt talked about a general letter being sent out from all over the country requesting just what we already have. I can not imagine not being able to have last rights for non-COVID deaths. Or churches being locked. Just wow.

  54. Mary

    Our bishop and priests here in Alabama have been so wonderful with setting up drive thru confession and outdoor confessions and even outdoor adoration…We go back to public Masses this Sunday, and are very excited. I cannot conceive why drive thru confessions are banned…the risk is soo minimal, especially with masks on and behind a screen. We will pray for your bishop and priests!

  55. Jacqueline Novak

    Thank you for putting my thoughts into understandable words! We have been blessed in Ames with a young priest who is doing whatever he can under these rules. My question is, what is our next step? Letters to the bishop?

    • Kendra

      Yes, I think so. I think we assure them that we know that they care about us and are making decisions out of caution and love, but that we just beg them to allow their priests to come up with creative ways, that are as safe as possible, to minister to their flock. And to not put good priests in this impossible situation. I really like the sample letter here at The Nicasius Project.

  56. Melissa

    Well said! I think this is the balanced approach we should have!

  57. Becca D

    THANK YOU. I’ve been unbelievably frustrated by the amount of Catholic influencers bullying people into believing what they believe and think what they think, which is most of what you point out above, blocking everyone on social media that doesn’t agree with them. Seriously thank you.

  58. Susan

    Perfect. I agree with everything you said 100%. I can’t believe our bishops aren’t doing all they can do ensure our access to the sacraments. The future of the Church is at risk.

  59. Fiona

    Thank you Kendra, yet again I am impressed by your approach. My diocese is one of only 2 in Australia with confessions banned ‘officially’ on the diocesan webpage. I respectfully wrote to my bishop asking him to reconsider his statement regarding this sacrament. His reply was that ‘of course'(?) an individual could ask a priest for confession, but no advertised times for confession were permitted in keeping with current civil regulations here. The wording on the webpage hasn’t changed…
    Like you, our family will continue to pray for the richness of the sacraments to be better understood & for them to be received with greater appreciation (soon!)

  60. Nichole Blair

    Thank you so much for this. All of it. This argument is logical and reasonable and yet, for some reason, is being vilified as “dangerous” “selfish” and “not pro-life”. I am so, so thankful that you have used your platform to speak some hard truths! It gives me hope in a world gone completely bonkers. And I had no idea about the restrictions in L.A. and what you are dealing with there- I am so sorry and will be praying fervently for some positive change for the church there. Peace be with you all.

  61. Erika Robuck

    Amen! Amen! Amen!

  62. Elissa

    Our parish posted a beautiful letter from the Bishop of the Diocese of Manchester (New Hampshire). In it, Bishop Libasci writes ” The Eucharist is the sacrament of the enduring love of God. Were we to gather together because of how much we ourselves want to share in this sacrament, even though we knew that we might be putting other people at risk, we would be serving as a counter-sign to what the
    Eucharist is about. The early Christians were willing to die to receive the Bread of Life, but they would not have been willing to send innocent people to their deaths in the process”. The full letter dives into the complexity of the issue. In this time of extreme public health crisis I miss the Eucharist and the other sacraments. However, I also know in my heart that parishes remaining closed for the time being is the right choice for the community as a whole. Full text of the letter can be found here: https://www.catholicnh.org/assets/Documents/About/Bishop/PAL-LtrFaithful-05.02.20.pdf

  63. Kimberly

    Our (Byzantine) parish is allowing families to come receive communion after Mass, in individual groups, throughout Sunday. I think it’s a brilliant idea, and draws attention to where the focus of Mass truly is – Eucharist centered, not Homily centered.

    We couldn’t receive communion during Lent, though. Our priest sent us the life of St. Mary of Egypt during that time, which was really helpful and perspective changing:
    1. It showed an ancient Palestinian practice of monastics retreating into the desert for the entirety of Lent, removing themselves from the sacraments and increasing their fasting, in anticipation of Holy Week and Easter. Their examples helped us to refocus our Lent during this unusual year.
    2. It showed St. Mary, a hermit who spent decades of her life in the desert and without access to the sacraments. What made this life fruitful is that she spent those years in fasting and repentance, and I think it’s noteworthy that as soon as she met a priest, she asked for him to bring communion to her. But the level of holiness she achieved under unusual circumstances was incredible.

    I’m not saying that our time in the comfort of our homes is like what St. Mary experienced, and I’m sure it takes out a lot of the guesswork when it’s the Mother of God herself who tells you to go into the desert, but I feel like she serves as a comfort and model all the same.

    • Kendra

      I really like that. I’ve been dismayed as much by the message as by the actual separation from the sacraments faced by people in some dioceses. I was visiting the PA Catholic School website and was struck that on the front page they say, “Our primary goal remains to provide for the health and safety of all those entrusted to our care.” Now, who knows who wrote that. Maybe some website company. But still, how heartbreaking is it that anyone would be told that bodily health and safety is the primary goal of a Catholic school system, even in a crisis. A message that, “this is a great tragedy and we are working on it,” I could better stomach.

  64. Elisa

    Hi! First, I want to begin by saying that I completely agree that the restrictions on churches in CA seem uncompromising and wrong. If people can get take out from Chick-fil-A and their latte from Starbucks, there must be an equally safe idea we can come up with to receive The Eucharist. That being said, I would really appreciate it if you would stop comparing the risk of the virus to dying in a car accident. Approximately 38,000 people die/year in the US from car accidents, whereas over 85,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the US over the course of several months. I don’t want to speak for all healthcare providers, but as one myself, it feels very degrading to have that comparison made. As I walk through the hospital wearing a mask and goggles, seeing the number of COVID hospitalizations rise over the last few weeks at my hospital, and praying that if I am exposed that I am young and healthy enough to survive, I have to say it certainly doesn’t feel the same as my typical drive to and from work each day. I also have friends who work at hospitals in NY as well as a friend who served on the USNS comfort and the devastation they have witnessed is unbelievable, so please, please show respect for the risk all of these amazing people are taking.

    • Kendra

      Thank you for your service and sacrifice, and it sounds like we are mostly on the same page. As for the car comparison: Clearly something is being lost in translation for a lot of people, and that’s on me, but I have never ever ever said that I think that the risk of COVID is the same as the risk of driving. It’s that people say, “we just can’t take any risk with people’s health and safety!” but clearly that’s not the case, because we are as a society comfortable with the risks of driving. We know it might kill us or someone else, but we take the risk because we want to get places in a speedy and climate controlled manner. So we accept some risk in our lives for things that are important to us, and we buckle our seat belts and hope for the best. But most of us don’t choose to, say, free solo mountain climb, because that seems like too great a risk for even a reward like fame and a movie deal and a spectacular view. Receiving the sacraments in a time of pandemic is going to fall in between driving and free soloing as far as risk, but I’d argue that the reward is greater than either, and greater than the rewards of other behaviors that society accepts as reasonable risk during pandemic.

  65. RyAnne Carr

    Yes to all this. Amen and thank you.

  66. Jane

    “Catholics face a stricter lock down here, in a city with 1500 deaths, than in New York City that has had over 21K deaths. ”

    To be sure, LA has suffered far fewer cases and deaths partly (mostly?) because of earlier and stricter requirements. So far anyway. I’m in Brooklyn. This has been such a sorrowful time. I wish we had stricter requirements – two months ago as well as today.

  67. Lauren R

    Incredible. You’re so great! 🙂 thanks for all your posts, Kendra.

  68. Arielle

    Kendra, I want to push back on the pro-life issue. If you wanted specific language for “anti-abortion” and “anti-euthanasia” you could just… say that. “Pro-life” seems to express something more expansive about the value of human life. Why would preserving the life of the unborn or those near death be important if not for a more fundamental value of human life per se?

    Regarding euthanasia in particular, often what we are talking about is life-saving measures – often very expensive ones – taken at the end of life, such as keeping brain-dead people on ventilators. It seems to be there is a fairly direct analogy to taking extreme economic and social measures to prevent the spread of a deadly virus. At the very least, there is a bit of whiplash involved in insisting one cannot disconnect a ventilator from a person who will never again open their eyes because we must take every possible measure to prevent death, and then to turn around and argue that death is natural and comes for us all and we need to accept it.

    With the car analogy: I don’t think we are misunderstanding your argument that there is a certain amount of risk to everything in life. Rather, we’re saying that the argument is a straw man. No one is saying “we can’t take ANY risk to health and safety.” We are saying “our determination is that this virus is risky enough that we are not comfortable doing x thing.” And so the car analogy is misleading, because it’s an example of something that we’re comfortable doing every day precisely because the risk is not that high.

    • Kendra

      That’s true, I could just say anti-abortion, and maybe that’s the answer. But there is an important distinction between a natural death, even if it’s early and from disease, and killing someone on purpose. We agree that the value of all human life is important. But I think an unintended side effect of making pro-life mean all-life, is to equate in our minds all kinds of death. We want to prevent all deaths, and we should work to do that. But we CAN’T prevent all death. So then abortion, which is a positively chosen action, is equated with other infant and child loss as just an unfortunate thing that had to happen because of reasons. I do stand by both halves of my pro-life argument, as my personal opinion. But I appreciate that the first half (using the term and associated jargon to shut down discussion between Catholics who disagree) is much more applicable to this issue than the second half (not broadening the definition) and that including the second half is unnecessary to this discussion. So I’m going to keep thinking it, but move that part down to a comment and out of the body of the post.

      I wish people were talking about risk rather than in hyperbole, that would be awesome! But to me, people are saying that I must want all priests and old people to die, which is bothersome (and mostly deleted). But if that’s what you’re saying, thank you, and my reply is why can’t we have access to the sacraments that’s AS safe as access to groceries? Because I think we could. And it’s not permitted in my diocese.

  69. Kendra

    I do stand by both halves of my pro-life argument, as my personal opinion. But I appreciate that the first half (using the term and associated jargon to shut down discussion between Catholics who disagree) is much more applicable to this issue than the second half (not broadening the definition) and that including the second half is unnecessary to this discussion, and extra-divisive. So I’m going to keep thinking it, but move that part here to a comment and out of the body of the post. So here’s what used to be in the body of the post:

    I also think it’s a bad idea to refer to as “pro-life” causes which are actually “quality of life” or “life-saving.” These are works of charity which are HUGELY important and good and God bless you if you are devoting yourself to them. But to call those works “pro-life” is to dilute and degrade the meaning of one particular turn of phrase. We need a term that means: “I am against the wilful and deliberate killing of innocents” or we lose the ability to TALK ABOUT IT. Please consider if you wish to contribute to the loss of the word just to get a zinger across in a disagreement with another Catholic.

    And an update added:
    From a big philosophical standpoint, I find the new expanded definition of the word “pro-life” to be problematic. NOT because I don’t think all the things people want it to also stand for are good and important. I think they are good and important. But because language is necessary to our ability to communicate specific ideas.

    If we broaden the definition of pro-life, and broaden it and broaden it until it encompasses everything that has up until now been called charity and justice and love of neighbor, then we literally don’t have a word that means “against the willful and deliberate killing of innocents.” And I think that would be a great victory for those who are against the teaching of the Church on abortion and euthanasia

    To me it feels like this: There’s the color white. It’s beautiful and special and some people consider it the most important color. But of course, there are other colors. Thousands of them. They’re all great. And then people who like other colors start saying, hey, white is really, actually ALL colors of light combined, so let’s call all colors “white.” And I’m like, wait, no, all colors are great, but we need a word for the color white.

    • EA

      I’d like to make two caveats to my comment.
      1. I am not aiming to promote division or “shut down discussion;” discussion necessarily involves more than one point of view. I would like to share mine, although it is dissimilar to your view and the views of many here published. I understand my comment may not be published.
      2. I don’t consider regulations regarding resumption of public Masses in L.A. any of my concern. I don’t live there and don’t have enough information on the situation to have an opinion

      I don’t believe I’ve ever read your blog; your post came my way via a childhood friend on Facebook. I grew up in the pro-life movement. When I was child, people in that movement at first accepted the label “anti-abortion” (euthanasia wasn’t as prominent a legal issue at that time.) Over time, the term pro-life was adopted in counter to the pro-abortion argument that unborn children weren’t humans at all – just a clump of cells, etc. – and moreso because as Catholics we believe that human beings are made in the image and likeness of God regardless of their age, circumstances, personal virtues, or stage of development.

      The term “pro-life” was an attempt to capture that belief. While all the unborn are certainly innocent, the terminally ill and aged may or may not be, but we still oppose euthanasia and assisted suicide precisely because those actions say “these lives do not have value. They may be morally discarded.”

      My new-ish (4 years) husband is one of those at higher risk when it comes to COVID-19, and I have been so disturbed at the lack of charity coming from Catholics who describe themselves as “pro-life” that I have shared his story in a few comboxes. I have not included one deeply ironic detail previously, because it seems a little unbelievable. You are welcome to contact me privately to verify it. My husband was born 5 weeks prematury in the early 70’s. That he was born was partly due to his father’s advocacy for him before he was born. When he was 39, he contracted a (totally common) respiratory bug that made its way to his chest, caused fluid build-up around his heart, scarring of his heart membrane, and ultimately necessitated open-heart surgery to remove the membrane. He has scarring in his heart (one atrium, specifically) as a result, and a virus that targets the cardiopulmonary system is dangerous to him.

      Whatever term you use, upholding the intrinsic value of human life, even when society does not, is what we are called to do as Catholics. It is not enough to be anti-abortion or anti-euthanasia (although it is certainly necessary and good to be both.)

      At first I was shocked, then scandalized, and now I’ve settled at appalled at how my husband’s father’s attempts to protect him while he was in the womb are the sort of actions that are praised as “pro-life,” but my bishops’ decisions that are aimed protecting the exact same, life, soul, person – the only difference being 40+ years ex-utero- are the subject of attack by some Catholics.

      To be meaningful, the term pro-life must refer back to the intrinsic value of all human life; being anti-abortion and anti-euthanasia are two positions that fall under that umbrella. Otherwise we are reduced to the same position that underpins the policies we oppose; asserting that human life is worthy of protection at certain stages, but not at others.

      • Kendra

        I’m so glad your husband is alive and I’m grateful that the bishops have given a dispensation from the Sunday Mass obligation that can be used by people like him in high risk categories, and by the people who live with them. It doesn’t follow for me that our love of people at high risk should mean that NO ONE should have access to the sacraments, if they could be provided with precautions similar to or greater than those currently being used at grocery stores, banks, and home improvement stores.

  70. Maria

    To Kendra and readers of this blog, have you seen this initiative?


    I haven’t read all the comments so please forgive me if anyone else has mentioned it before.

    I think signing this appeal is worth considering.

    (Sorry for posting the same comment in two blog posts, but I believe as many people as possible should learn about this possibility to defend our rights).

  71. Roxann Chavez

    Kendra Tierney, you are always music to my ears!! I don’t know if it’s because I clung to your blog tooth and nail 9 years ago when I was going through an intense conversion and needed to “see” what God was revealing to me played out in actual life, but I love hearing you slice through the confusion and help people arrive at clarity. It is so needed!!! I love you. God bless you. I’m glad you’re back!

  72. Sally

    You’re so brave and spot on, Kendra! Always love what you write and this particular post is so needed. Thanks for having the courage!

  73. Dennis

    Thank you Kendra this is a fantastic post. Your not an idiot. And you definitely know what your talking about. I totally agree with everything you’ve said.

    I was shocked here in Australia with the way that so many “faithful” Catholics reacted to the Church closures. As soon as the doors were locked many people simply said “oh well at least we can stream Mass”. They didn’t even dress for it. Their kids wandering out in their pajamas. “I guess we should have told them to get dressed…..”

    When attending The Mass is the source and summit of Catholic life, how could we let it be taken away so easily, and just watch it on TV instead? Shouldn’t we have been more upset?

    As Catholics we are taught that God could call any of us at any time. And so be ready as we know not the time or place. It could be COVID-19, a heart attack, cancer or being run over by a car tomorrow. If we can get to confession, and do our best to remain in a state of Grace we can have the hope and joy of knowing that we could get to heaven regardless of what happened, which is our only goal anyway. If we can get that covered for ourselves and families we then need to see who else we can help.

    We found this really helpful

  74. Christina Hoffman

    Wonderful! You are saying everything I have said in emails to my own bishop! Thank God for you!

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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