I continue to be aghast at otherwise faithful Catholics who are falling lock-step behind the government's unconstitutional ban on large gatherings. The First Amendment guarantees, among other things, Freedom of Religion and Freedom of Assembly. I won't rehash last week's piece on this; read it here.
I commend the priests who are "working around" the draconian actions of their bishops, with many of those actions surpassing those of civil authority in jack-booted tyranny and in utter disregard of their sacerdotal mandates. Several pastors are conducting "drive-through" confessions in their parking lots. Others are exposing the Blessed Sacrament in the churches so that He can be seen and adored from the outside. Other non-Roman rites are still conducting Mass, or Divine Liturgy to use their terminology.
But again, the mental contortions that some Catholics use to justify their "go along to get along" attitudes is a sight to behold. More than a few are claiming that Catholics in a state of grace do not have the right to receive the Sacraments. To which I will now reply, "AT CANON LAW, THEY CERTAINLY DO HAVE SUCH RIGHTS". Canon 213 expressly states that truth.
Many times we have cited Canon 915, detailing that Catholics "persevering in manifest, grave sin" are not to be admitted to Communion. However, examine Canons 912 - 923. I foresee one attempt at silliness now and will quash it immediately. Canon 912 states that "any baptized person not prohibited by law can and must be admitted to Holy Communion." "Law" in this context means church law, not civil; else we would have to conclude that Chinese Catholics cannot receive Holy Communion.
Now are the bishops actually barring us from Mass? Well, they are actually quite clever about that. At Canon Law, they cannot do that. They are closing Churches and exhorting us to remain at home and maybe watch a live-stream of Mass. In some discussions where I've broached the idea of going outside my diocese for Mass, I am told that I am "being disobedient". No I am not. I have the canonical right to go to Mass. Moreover, the bishops never ordered us outright not to go to Mass. They cannot, and they know it. They simply put out some sly suggestions and hope that Catholics will believe that they are forbidden to attend. Indeed, some naively take the suggestion and run with it, probably not stopping to actually think about the matter.
Let's look at Confession through the prism of Canon Law, beginning with Canon 960. That canon states that grave sin can only be remitted via the Sacrament of Confession, excepted only by "physical or moral impossibility". NEWS FLASH! The equivocating cowardice of bishops, by which they so cavalierly close their confessionals, does NOT constitute those kinds of impossibilities. God bless the priests mentioned above who have devised ways to work around their prelates' irresponsible directives. Canon 986 is quite explicit about the duty of priests to make themselves available for confession, particularly when the penitent is in danger of death.
So my fellow Catholics, hold your bishops' feet to the fire. Go outside your diocese to receive the Sacraments, if you must. Remember that your first duty before God is your own and your families' salvation. Physical health, good as it is, takes lesser priority to salvation.
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