Life in Coronatide
  • Mark HuseyMark Husey
    Posts: 192
    Beloved colleagues,

    I seldom make comment or contribute here, and if I were to read the room, I'd venture to say that there are many in this group who currently go about their lives unmasked and heavily armed. Some of my best friends bear arms, unmasked (rimshot).

    I'm personally relieved that the governor of California has seen fit to close indoor worship services in the counties that comprise the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. I know our Cathedral did exemplary, disciplined ministry. My parish has been a sham.

    I realize Catholic culture historically prizes obedience above all but during a pandemic that won't die down, I feel incredible remorse at the thought that I could be enabling its spread. Having survived AIDS and its aftermath in the 1980's and '90's, I'm especially sensitive to people spouting nonsense, although it now seems that having unprotected sex is safer than going to Mass. Popular piety attributes miraculous qualities to reception and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, but I'm reminded of Jesus' remonstration of Satan in the wilderness: "You shall not put the Lord, your God, to the test." (Matthew 4:7) as well as 1 John 4:20 If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother; he is a liar. For he that loveth not his brother, whom he seeth, how can he love God, whom he seeth not?

    Any priests or deacons routinely interacting with the public needs to be routinely tested. I am appalled our bishops haven't mandated this. They make sick visits and hospital calls and even with churches closed, they are active. THEY need protection and so do we. I don't think anything will move in the right direction until our bishops insist that all priests in active ministry receive weekly testing.

    The silence I feel compelled to offer to protect these priests enables their bad behavior and smacks of the decades (centuries: remember castrati?) long sexual abuse they perpetuated. The current situation is literally a matter of life or death for family, friend, and stranger alike.

    I'm pleasantly surprised by the overall cordial/civil tone of the conversation this post inspired, and am edified to hear about places where people are putting precaution and safety first. While glad I checked in, I'm somewhat sad to see
    this thread [...] has contributed the most thoughtful commentary I've seen so far on this forum regarding the pandemic.

    God's blessings to you and yours. Stay safe.
    Thanked by 3CharlesW Elmar jpnz71
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,003
    The lack of no-barrier, utility-level testing (so that people can dramatically shorten the temporal window of uncertainty about their exposure status) is a huge gap in risk management. The lack of national leadership in the US over a robust program of that kind is rueful.
    Thanked by 3Mark Husey Elmar tomjaw
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    I am taking the virus quite seriously. That is why I am retiring at the end of July, being 72 and in the high-risk group. We are wearing masks and attendance is down. However, I am not comfortable being in the company of 100 plus people several times on Sunday mornings.
  • Mark,

    You'll find a group here with a wide range of opinions on a whole host of topics.

    When you say,
    it now seems that having unprotected sex is safer than going to Mass.
    you identify one of the ironies of the present situation. While there are people who wish to promote the idea that you identify, I have no idea if any of those people are on this forum. Objectively speaking, however, the two can't be classed as nearly equally dangerous. Attending Mass isn't, by its nature, dangerous. Receiving Holy Communion in the state of mortal sin, on the other hand, is lethal to the soul.

    If you urge bishops to have their priests do less priestly work, which you appear to be doing at the end of your post,.....

    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Mark HuseyMark Husey
    Posts: 192
    Chris, sin can be forgiven sacramentally: Psalm 51;19 A sacrifice to God is an afflicted spirit: a contrite and humbled heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Coronavirus spreads exponentially from asymptomatic persons: one person can infect many. I encourage bishops to have their priests behave responsibly. And let's not underestimate the efficacy of private, fervent prayer.
    Thanked by 2Elmar CHGiffen
  • Mark HuseyMark Husey
    Posts: 192
    And I'm learning that the Archdioceses of Boston and Louisville (and I'm sure others) have much better protocol than what I've seen at my parish.
  • CGM
    Posts: 690
    I must disagree with Mark's premise, that

    The current situation is literally a matter of life or death for family, friend, and stranger alike.

    It isn't. The data at show very clearly that after hitting a peak around April 17th, the death rate in the U.S. due to Covid-19 has taken a welcome, precipitous, and continual nosedive. As of July 10th, there were nine deaths per day per one million U.S. residents, in a continuing decline. And even in states where there is a present uptick, numbers of deaths are still quite small:

    approx. fatalities from Covid-19 as of July 13th
    — Florida: 4300, 0.020% of the state's population
    — Texas: 3300, 0.011% of the state's population
    — California: 7000, 0.017% of the state's population

    As CharlesW notes above, the main considerations are age and underlying health conditions. If you're under 60, there's less than a 1% chance that the disease will be fatal.
    — 60-69, 2-4% chance of fatality
    — 70-79, 5-10% chance of fatality
    — 80+, 15-20% chance of fatality

    So by all means be cautious and use your own judgment. But to describe the present situation as

    a pandemic that won't die down

    is again inaccurate, as least as regards the U.S. Numbers of diagnosed cases are increasing as number of tests increase, but number of fatalities continues to fall overall. While more people have it, fewer die of it, quoth the numbers.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw rich_enough
  • Mark HuseyMark Husey
    Posts: 192
    California is back on our second lockdown, so it feels like our first was for naught. And quoting numbers to minimize impact smacks of Hunger Games rationale to me. If we were talking about fetuses, I'm sure some would be protesting a bit louder.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 1,039
    Good grief, people die in car accidents every day. People drown at the beach and in pools. Shall we shut down the roads and gas stations too or prohibit swimming because "every life is precious"? In regard to the common good, there must be some willingness to accept a percentage of deaths that can be foreseen statistically, but not individually, as a result of everyday activity that involves risk but promotes the general welfare. Covid-19 is no different in that respect.

    The analogy with abortion is false because abortions are always directly, immediately and specifically willed. Infection with Covid-19 is not, and infection is seldom terminal.

    Take precautions, but don't shut things down. We can't afford it, and it's disruptive. And people die from the effects of the shutdown too: alcoholism, suicide, lack of exercise.
  • Ken of Sarum
    Posts: 406
    Louisville is an Archdiocese.
    Thanked by 1Mark Husey
  • Mark,

    To do sacramental work, the priest needs to share space with the patient. He can't marry at long distance, or absolve, or consecrate, or ordain or confirm or anoint otherwise.

    Maybe that's not what you meant?

    As to priests behaving responsibly: given the nature of a priest, he who will not celebrate the sacraments for and with his flock is behaving irresponsibly. Priests who refuse to make sick calls and hospital calls without a really good reason (and the mere existence of COVID-19 or any pathogen somewhere in the state doesn't qualify as a really good reason*) are abdicating their responsibility.

    A choirmaster who had TB, knew it, and showed up to work would be behaving irresponsibly, but a priest who visits that choirmaster in his hospital bed is behaving properly. Should he take steps not to transmit the TB to anyone else? Certainly, SO LONG AS that doesn't mean denying other sick people the consolation of the sacraments. Fr. Damien de Veuster couldn't serve a parish on the other Hawaiian islands after having served the leper colony on Molokai, at least not right away, but he could serve those on the island who had come to serve (and die among) the outcasts.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • The percentage of people who test positive for COVID in my city of 1400000 is 0.016% approximately. There has been a spike of reported cases recently, but they all seem to be happening in seniors residences and assisted living accommodations, with the exception of a high rise apartment complex. So, staying home is making people get COVID.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    In our area, the highest numbers of cases are in the 20-30 age range. While I will not take chances because of my age, it is simply not true that the young are not in danger.
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 1,155
    In my county, the 19-30 age range has the highest percentage.
  • jpnz71
    Posts: 65
    Thank you to Mark Husey who, with the lead post on this thread, has contributed the most thoughtful commentary I've seen so far on this forum regarding the pandemic.
    Thanked by 1Mark Husey
  • davido
    Posts: 895
    Stop with the nonsense about number of cases. The danger is the fatality rate which, as has been pointed out several times in this thread, is incredibly low among young people and is falling.
    Opinions on covid in these USA shake down exactly along political lines. Stop coating your politics in religious rhetoric and let’s get back to music.
  • Stop coating your politics in religious rhetoric and let’s get back to music.


    You're addressing this to both sides of the COVID debate?

    Everyone else,

    What potential damage comes to singers and organists who are unable to use their instruments for extended periods of time, regardless of cause?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    Good to hear from you, Mark.

    Admirably, the Archdiocese of Boston assigned a team of priests, volunteers I think, to provide the sacraments to COVID patients, getting them trained in sanitary protocols and having them live together for several weeks in that role, until another cohort came in to replace them.

    In the parish I attend, the priests follow the procedures outlined by the Dominicans' "Thomistic Institute", including the use of hand sanitizer before every communicant.

    Please, folks, let us be done with the reproaches and recriminations. And especially no more bickering about statistics. I don't even care if you happen to have a graduate degree in epidemiology. We've had enough of it.
  • Mark,

    I've re-read your original post.

    Your thread was about COVID-19.
    I don't follow how clerical sex abuse is connected to COVID-19.

    Could you parse this sentence for me, because I can't make anything (rational) of it, and you seem quite rational. Typographical errors don't make a person irrational, so what did you mean when you wrote:
    The silence I feel compelled to offer to protect these priests enables their bad behavior and smacks of the decades (centuries: remember castrati?) long sexual abuse they perpetuated.

    Who is compelling you to offer silence?

  • chonakchonak
    Posts: 9,181
    Chris, stop the cross-examination.
    Thanked by 1sergeantedward
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 1,080
    CG-Z, excellent question!!
    On , I see this opinion:

    "The average singer who goes from practicing or exercising many times per week down to once a week or less will see a marked decrease in their range.

    "Humans have a natural vocal range, or tessitura. The average is about an octave, though many can sing a span of an octave and a half or even a two-octave span (three-octave range) even "cold". Outside that range is largely a "use it or lose it" area, and the further from that range, the more effort (in the practice and technique sense, not outright "pushing") is required to maintain access to those notes.

    However, this should not be permanent. If you quit singing technically for a year, then start again, you will start at your natural tessitura, which you retain simply by speaking regularly and singing along with the radio. But, as you continue to practice, your range will increase.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Carol
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    I have no idea how this will end. The Methodists have cancelled all their services. Will more follow? I don't know, but our attendance is half what it was originally. My suspicion is that when the pandemic is over, many will not come back.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw Carol
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 2,731
    We are fully open and have got our curate back from the NHS, he has been providing the sacraments to the sick in our hospitals for the last few months. He has been regularly tested as have all the priests that volunteered to help the sick. The medical grade PPE and the training has paid off as he has failed to get COVID.

    As of last week our TLM Sunday Mass attendance is now 15% higher than the pre-Covid panic. Weekday TLM Mass is 250% of pre-Covid levels... mainly due to the change in Mass time!
    As for the parish as a whole last Sunday we were at 87% of the total Sunday attendance for all the Masses (EF and NO).

    I should mention that many churches are still not open... and very few have re-instated their pre-Covid Mass timetable.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 503
    What potential damage comes to singers and organists who are unable to use their instruments for extended periods of time, regardless of cause?
    Losing your job, for example. Usually I got my yearly renewals by the end of May.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • rich_enough
    Posts: 1,039
    Unfortunately I think this is a case of trying to "defeat the virus," which is not only futile, but in many aspects, counter-productive.

    As we open up, cases go up, and so we lock down again. Then cases go down, which means we can open up, at which point the cycle repeats itself. Clearly this is not a sustainable strategy - if it can be called a strategy at all. Every pandemic in recorded history has followed a predictable pattern (look up Farr's law), but somehow we've convinced ourselves that this one is different - or rather, that we can out-maneuver nature.

    Like fighting crime, the only rational approach is to manage the risk, not try to remove it. But the longer we try, the more the collateral damage piles up.
  • [comment self-deleted]
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,003
    Part of risk management comes to Walmart (which self-insures for liability insurance):
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 11,955
    I think some will take comfort in statistics showing a low death rate, but I am not so sure there is much comfort there. Tell the statistics to the parents of the healthy 11-year-old boy who died from the virus in my area. I don't think they will gain much comfort. Also, inform the 20-something athlete and weight lifter who said his entire body was wracked with pain like he had never known when he was in the hospital with the virus. Apparently, some suffer after effects that can go on for some time after they are "cured." This is nothing anyone in their right mind could minimize if they themselves had it. I am not complaining about masks. They may not be as effective as we would like, but if it is better than nothing, I am OK with wearing them.
  • Liam
    Posts: 5,003
    indeed, death and recovery are not binary options here. door #3 includes chronic and latent damage types. the kind that may not manifest fully until folks age but would be identified as a pre-existing condition.
  • ChoirpartsChoirparts
    Posts: 147
    Annual deaths in the US:

    16,000 Murders in the US each year
    38,000 deaths in Crashes on U.S. roadways.
    45,000 deaths by Suicide in the US
    60,000 deaths during Influenza season.
    70,000 deaths from drug overdoses.
    150,000 deaths from respiratory diseases
    600,000 deaths from Cancer in the United States.
    650,000 deaths from Heart Disease each year in US
    700,000 deaths from Abortions in the United States.
  • francis
    Posts: 10,707

    It seems that we should:

    -ban going outside of our houses and installing barred windows and doors so we don't get murdered and die
    -ban driving our cars lest we crash and possibly die
    -ban all rope, medicine of any kind, sharp objects and bridges so people don't commit suicide and die
    -ban contact with any human being so we don't get sick and possibly die
    -ban all drug use including prescriptions so people don't overdose and die
    -ban food since it causes obesity and respiratory disease and people die
    -ban anything that causes cancer (o my) because people die
    -ban all substances that cause heart disease (i think that is just about anything we ingest) because people die
    -ban abortion because people are murdered... and die


    Because we have NOT banned the one thing that has caused the MOST AMOUNT OF DEATH of all time (willed by the state, mind you), God is abandoning us to our foolish ways.

    Mea Culpa, Mea Culpa, Mea Maxima Culpa, Kyrie Eleison, Agnus Dei, Salve Regina.


    I believe the rate of abortion is higher than 700,000 per year in the US. More here:

    Also, abortion is murder, so the number one reason is murder which moves the first category to the bottom.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 503
    Annual deaths in the US: ...
    What is your message - does this teach us to do (or not to do) something right now?

    [Btw. you omitted the figure for non-traffic accidents - which I don't know, but is said to be approx. 5-10 times higher and often escapes from attention when people speak about 'accidents'.]
  • mmeladirectress
    Posts: 1,080
    There should be a column for events following “Hey guys (or y’all), watch this!”
  • Mark HuseyMark Husey
    Posts: 192
    FWIW these were the issues/events at my parish. This is a list of grievances for those of you into that sort of thing. You can also pray for my parish and me without burdening yourself with this mundane detritus.

    We have a Norbertine priest from a neighboring parish who celebrated Masses (unmasked) the last three weekends in June (not sure if he was on for weekday Masses or not). One of his brother priests in the community tested positive for COVID19, so now the whole house of 10 priests is in quarantine. We still haven't heard anything about the COVID19 status of the priest who was with us.

    Saturday, July 4, they decided to consolidate two Saturday Masses into the (new) 4 PM Mass time, and asked the principal parish musicians (a cantor and myself) to lead the music in place of the regular volunteers who lead music at that Mass. It was a terrible idea on multiple levels. When the celebrant (whom I'll call Fr. PITA) arrived, he was absolutely indignant that he wasn't given notice of the musician-swap and sent the cantor and I home. We weren't too happy either, but at least we're told we'll be paid for this Mass.

    And last weekend, Fr. PITA (masked) was singing along with the cantor for two of the Masses I played. On Saturday, we had less than 30 people in a room that seats over 600 so I wasn't concerned. He asked me after Mass if I could give him time to breathe while he was singing (!!!!) I asked him if he hadn't heard the Archbishop's latest mandate that only a soloist is to sing at Mass. He assured me that he had and that I still need to give him time to breathe to sing. (!!!)

    On Sunday at 8:30 AM (with a contemporary duo) Fr. PITA sang (masked) along with them and the assembly also sang; at 10 AM when I played, he sang along with the cantor and with me through the Gloria. After the Gloria, I turned off the organ, picked up my music and left. I then sent texts to my music director, pastor, and Fr. PITA. I came back and personally spoke with Fr. PITA as well as the pastor about the necessity of coronavirus safety at our parish Masses. Our pastor is a model celebrant in even the worst times, but falls short of laying down the law when needed.

    As of this past Monday, all of our Masses have been moved outdoors; except for one funeral where I was scheduled as Organist this past Thursday where they moved the time 2 hours earlier without telling the musicians. The cantor lives 5 minutes away and was called by the family, assuming she call me, who lives 40 minutes away in moderate traffic. I was notified 40 minutes before the new start time, just after getting out of the shower. Fr. PITA is in charge of arranging funerals.

    See a pattern here? The Pastor refuses to let Fr. PITA go, and the staff and parishioners bear the brunt of his chaos.

    Thus ends the rant. If you made it this far, I'm praying for you.
    Thanked by 2CharlesW Elmar
  • Mark,

    FWIW I read your "rant" (your word) twice.

    It sounds to me as if there's a menagerie here, but that there are two distinct files involved.

    1) COVID
    2) Disfunction

    I'm going to ignore the first for now. Priests who believe they are a law unto themselves encourage disobedience and disrespect. They also sometimes develop cult-like followings (think Fr. James Martin). I'm not clear how Fr PITA fits within the parochial structure, so your comment that "The Pastor refuses to let Fr. PITA go" is hard to evaluate, except that you clearly think the pastor has the authority and the desire do do something he lacks the fortitude to accomplish.

    What does "model celebrant" mean to you?

    Thanked by 1Mark Husey
  • Mark HuseyMark Husey
    Posts: 192

    I appreciate your enthusiasm for this discussion and I find this particular installment most approachable for me to dialogue in. Thank you for giving my rant a double-read: I'll put repeat signs in my prayers for your and your loved ones' health, happiness, and holiness, as I appreciate your prayers for mine and my loved ones.

    It sounds to me as if there's a menagerie here, but that there are two distinct files involved.

    1) COVID
    2) Disfunction

    100% agree, as well as with your paragraph that follows this.

    A model celebrant to me is one who follows the rubrics with solemnity and joy, who is self-effacing and humbly manifests "in persona Christi." My pastor consistently does this, at least in my estimation. He's a retired military chaplain with a tour of Desert Storm to his credit. I have never not enjoyed working with our military priests.

    Again, thank you for your fervor and any prayers you can spare.
    Thanked by 2Carol StimsonInRehab