Although man has made great advances in science and technology and the means of communication have provided a nearly instantaneous flow of information, one can see two problems in the contemporary situation. First, science provides no means to make judgments about the morality of its advancements; that is, science cannot say that this discovery is good, or that one is bad. That is the role of religion (and, perhaps, philosophy). Second, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the ordinary citizen to trust the information conveyed through the modern modes of communication. Though the internet provides immediate dissemination of data, who can tell the difference between what is true and what is “Fake News”?
Both these issues come to mind when addressing Coronavirus. In Italy the Church has cancelled public Masses in some places. Is this a good and prudent course of action, or succumbing to hysteria? Although I believe it is probably closer to hysteria, I also think it is prudent that some response is made. Coronavirus apparently is spread in the usual way of viruses: by human contact. Several practices here at SS Peter & Paul already provide greater safety for our parishioners. The priest and the people exchange the Sign of Peace, but the people do not exchange handshakes. We offer only the Sacred Host, but not the Precious Blood at Holy Communion, eliminating any risk by the use of a common Chalice. The Holy Water fonts are cleaned and refreshed each Friday. Even our practice of receiving the Sacred Host kneeling and on the tongue is a good practice. It is no more risk of contagion than is receiving on the hand since hand to hand contact is common.
So, do the usual and necessary things to stay healthy. Eat properly, get enough sleep, get your exercise, wash your hands regularly. And if you are sick, stay home. All these things the Christian does as prudent actions, and parents provide the same for their children. We should preserve our good health. It is the right and moral thing to do. But do not forget that it is an even higher obligation to maintain the health of your immortal Soul. Go to Mass. Pray. Observe the disciplines of Lent. Go to Confession! The virus of sin is worse than Coronavirus.
May God bless you! Fr. Schaller