Matt C. Abbott
Priestly words of encouragement during COVID-19 crisis
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By Matt C. Abbott
March 20, 2020

The following are words of spiritual encouragement (lightly edited) from four Catholic priests regarding the COVID-19 crisis.

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Father Charlie Becker of the Archdiocese of Chicago:
    COVID-19 is causing everyone to slow way down. It's so good for us! In this adjustment time, may we grow in awareness of one another, kindness toward one another, patience, understanding, charity, even joy. God: You love us even now as you call us to think about life, not madly running after things, excitement, addicted to activities, but about You Lord, and ourselves, and one another, slowing way down.

    Remember, the Sacrifice of the Mass is still being offered to the Father through the Son by priests daily, even if you can't attend. Unite your intentions to the Sacrifice, pray the rosary, adore Jesus in the Eucharist where possible, confess where you can. Let's pray that more will start to pray, even if it's only one Our Father. It's a beginning. We are decades behind! Mary, Queen of Peace, pray for us.
Father Ramil E. Fajardo of the Archdiocese of Chicago:
    The most singular problem we have, which is being made apparently clear in this crisis, is a lack of supernatural outlook due to a weak interior life. So many people are rightly distraught by first the limiting of Holy Communion, then the shut-down, and now state-by-state shelter-in-place decrees for weeks on end.

    A solid interior life would recognize this as a Father Walter Czisek, S.J., moment, a Francis Xavier Cardinal Nguyen Van Thuan moment, and so many others. Just like so many heroic men and women before us in millennia passed, a solid prayer life would keep us united to Him. We would have a supernatural outlook; nothing would tear us away from Him.

    When our greatest treasures are seized – our freedom to walk around as we will, our dinners out, Holy Mass when and where we want, Holy Communion daily – even then we can't be distraught because a solid interior life has prepared us for this moment. As Catholics, we are the Church Militant here on earth. We have been born precisely for this.
Father Louis Jerome of the Archdiocese of New York:
    The crisis brings us to stark realization that we are not the masters of our own destinies and fates. The coronavirus outbreak can teach us that not only do we have to take care of our bodies, but above all, our souls. Jesus tells us in the Gospel, 'Do not labor for the food that perishes, but for the food that guarantees unto life.'

    This spiritual food, of course, is the Holy Eucharist, which, sadly, many of our parishioners are now deprived of due to the cancellation of Masses. The fact is that most of us do focus more on material realities than spiritual ones, and the crisis now can be a wake-up call to rediscover the importance of the Blessed Sacrament, which we need to hunger for and which only priests can give us. Without the Eucharist, our soul withers and dies.

    Let faithful Catholics then pray before the tabernacle in thanksgiving for the Lord, Who is still with us, and that He does not withdraw His presence from us in this nation due to the idols we have made and for our infidelities.
Father Erik Richsteig of the Diocese of Salt Lake City:
    Keep your mind and heart fixed on Christ and His kingdom. Remember, the way to both is marked by taking up your cross and carrying it with the Lord to Jerusalem. He is with us and His light is most clearly seen when it's darkest. Pray and unite your prayers and sufferings with that of the Mystical Body of Christ.
© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He also has an Associate in Applied Science degree in business management from Triton College. Abbott has been interviewed on MSNBC, Bill Martinez Live, WOSU Radio in Ohio, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's 2019 "Unsolved" podcast about the unsolved murder of Father Alfred Kunz, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) and WISC-TV (CBS) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune and other media outlets. He is mentioned in the 2020 Report on the Holy See's Institutional Knowledge and Decision-Making Related to Former Cardinal Theodore Edgar McCarrick (1930 to 2017), which can be found on the Vatican's website. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.

(Note: I welcome and appreciate thoughtful feedback. Insults will be ignored. Only in very select cases will I honor a request to have a telephone conversation about a topic in my column. Email is much preferred. God bless you and please keep me in your prayers!)

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