I was shopping outside of my usual area, and having noticed there was a Mass about to start in a nearby church. I made my way across the road and entered the doors. It was just a couple of minutes after Mass had begun. Despite the 'polite' notices about mask-wearing, I have never been off put from entering shops. Yet, the glass doors in the narthex of the church were pasted with multiple notices stating entry conditions. One demanded 'Stop! Unless you have checked your temperature recently, you must not enter!' As a lady of a certain age, one fleeting hot flush could have determined whether I might be allowed to enter and receive the Eucharistic Jesus or not.
Little squirts and great Saints
Grateful as I was that a Mass was available in these times, the narthex notices seemed unmindful of the kind of faith that produced saints like Damien of Molochi and Saint Francis, who not only welcomed the leper but hugged him (John Bradburne - a saint in waiting).
While us little squirts may not become great saints like these, we can aspire to their example.
Holy water & spiritual health
Cardboard lids had been thoughtfully taped over the tops of empty water stoups to aid habitual holy water blessers to break the habit. It brought to mind the wonderfully formed Holy water stoop at my childhood church of St. Matthew which depicts Saint Michael expelling Lucifer from heaven; a simple catechesis in art form, which taught us as children that Holy water has the power to expel demons. Particularly efficacious for those tempted to multiple distractions during Mass.
Having applied my pocket hand sanitiser, I entered the church with Mass already in progress and made my way into a back bench as quietly as possible. Kneeling down, I began to recollect my thoughts, when I was abruptly interrupted by a man standing over me with a large bottle of squirty stuff. He had been paying more attention to his squirting duties than the Mass; his vigilance rashly judged that pocket sanitisers were inferior to his large bottle of sanitiser with added plunger. His scramble across the kneeler was somewhat disruptive to those in the benches around me.
In all my years of church going, I have never met anyone who was willing to approach me with a syphon of Holy water and demand that I bless myself for the sake of my spiritual health. And yet here he was demanding that I douse myself with sanitiser. Could this passing fear of germs I wonder, be supplanting our fear of God?
Food for Lions?
Our bodies are a gift from God and we should take care of them, I understand that people want to stay well. Yet we cannot nurture our bodies and neglect to nurture our souls.
In 1 Peter chapter 5, verse 8, we are warned to be sober minded, as the devil is like a prowling lion waiting for someone to devour. He is a predator who hides in the grass and strikes the moment he smells the scent of pride in our efforts to do good; he efficiently inverts the good we intended.
I am beginning to question whether we are presently in danger of idolatrising the gods of covid and inverting true virtues for a counterfeit compassion that usurps the worthy worship of God. With closed churches and limited access to sacraments, the devil is attempting to sift us like wheat, separate us from each other and the sacramental life until it no longer appears relevant to pray or enter a church at all.
From now on, I will keep in my pocket a bottle of holy water along with my pocket sanitiser - at least for as long as the cardboard covers the stoups.
Next Post - feast of the Holy family