A good and holy priest, wrote to me about my recent post in which I presented a 1987 parish in France that locked parishioners out of their church. They used a battering ram to gain access to their church and all the goodness that the Church is called to administer.
Dear Mr Hirsh,
Christ is risen, alleluia!
The article about Port Marly in France, Palm Sunday, 1987, could be supplemented by the fact that the church in question was and is owned by the French government and not by the local diocese or bishop. So this would not be a case of forcing the bishop’s hand, I think.
In our crucified and risen Lord,
Fr **** * ********
Dear Father ****,
An excellent point. But I think an additional one is that, speaking generally, the bishops have shuttered (and shuddered!) their churches exactly when they should be throwing open the doors. This is, from a sales and marketing perspective, a HUGE missed opportunity.
Arguably, the current situation is worse than a government owned church (as was the case in France) because we now have bishops who have become essentially Princes of the Vichy Church*, having their own government but doing the bidding of the outside government. They have abrogated the Code of Canon Law which directs that the primary law of the Church is the salvation of souls. Can you imagine if just one bishop stood up and said:
No. Not just no, but Hell, no. And not just Hell, no; but No to Hell!
We’re open for business. In fact, we’re glad you’re thinking about death. Because, with just a few notable exceptions in history, the death rate has always been the same: One per person. You’re going to die. We don’t know when. But we know it’s coming. We don’t know how. But we have a lot of voices claiming that “this” is it. But we have some good news.
Wait. Check that. We have THE Good News. We have the “vaccine” that will prevent eternal death. Side effects of this “vaccine” include love of God and love of neighbor. We have a source of hope when the rest of the world is hopeless. We have the One who calls us to “Be not afraid” when everyone else is gripped by fear. We have THE Good News that promises you that the One who loves you also cares for the lilies of the field, the sparrow, and the very hairs on your head. And He will care for you. Supremely.
We don’t care about your money, you social standing, your occupation, or your zip code. But the One we serve bids you to come: “Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest… Take my yoke upon you, for my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” We’re eager to share more of this One with you, who also invites us to taste and see that the He is good.
So our services will continue as scheduled and we so look forward to sharing The Good News with you. Or, you could just go down to your local store and get in a fistfight over a package of toilet paper. Sure, we’re biased, but we think ours is the better option.
I’d move to that diocese tomorrow.
But the bishops have failed in this primary law. But it’s not too late for any one or all of them to repent. Yet. There were two of the apostles that betrayed Jesus: Peter and Judas. Both had sorrow over their sin. But only Peter had a sorrow that led to repentance. So, I suggest, that the bishops of today should consider which of the first bishops they want to emulate. Peter was cowardly. Judas was diabolical. Either could have repented. Only Peter did.
I do have one other point that really burns my backside. I’m a convert to the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church from about a dozen years ago. One of the draws to me is the historicity of the Church. What are the bishops saying to the millions who went to their death in the Early Church, in China, in England, in Viet Nam, in Japan, in Korea, in the Soviet Union – you get my drift – for Christ and His Church? Today these bishops have accomplished what no despot has been able to: shutter the doors. I half expect the next Al Smith Dinner will have a photo-op with the bishops collectively urinating on the graves of the martyrs. (“But if we can save even one person from a cold virus, it will be worth it.”) And, to Hell with their souls!
There is another “law” that the bishops have forgotten, and that is the fact that the powers of darkness that would dare to order a church closed cannot be appeased. They. Will. Not. Be. Appeased. That “law” is: Feeding the Beast just makes it hungrier. It’s not in the Code of Canon Law, but it probably should be.
Your servant, but Christ’s first,
* From 1940 to 1942, while the Vichy regime was the nominal government of all of France except for Alsace-Lorraine. The Vichy government remained the nominal government of France, albeit one that collaborated with Nazi Germany from November 1942 onwards. The government at Vichy remained there until late 1944, when it lost its de facto authority due to the Allied invasion of France and the government was compelled to relocate to the Sigmaringen enclave in Germany, where it continued to exist on paper until the end of hostilities in Europe.