I haven’t been to my beloved St. Anthony’s Church where I’ve ushered at Sunday Mass for 50 years since March. And it hurts.
Oh I could go. Church services are open again. But I choose not to, watching St. Anthony’s weekly Mass online instead. Too many restrictions handed down by the Archdiocese to be honest with you. Masks. Blocking off pews. Limited seating, and that really bugs me. All my life I’ve been told and I’ve adhered to the belief that church doors should be open to one and all. To me the current version of Mass isn’t Mass. It’s Walmart.
This caught my eye on Facebook. I do not know the author or where he’s from (the text was shared). Please take the time to read:
My husband is president of our church and received an email on requiring masks. Here is his response to those who are in leadership of our church on the spiritual battle which we as a church are fighting, or as I see many churches not fighting.
Sorry for the late response. I felt it would be best to gather my thoughts first. My apologies for the length of this message, but as you can see I have a lot swirling about in my mind.
As the president of the congregation, I’m sure it’s quite conspicuous that I never wear a mask, particularly as the “pro mask” element of our church continually presents mask-wearing as the loving, caring thing to do. By extension, then, I must appear to be a heartless, callous, and selfish person by not wearing a mask!
Naturally, I do not see it the same way. So here I thought it would be helpful to walk you all through my thinking on the matter.
Let’s start at a point of agreement: I think I can safely assume that all of us would agree, when looking at how our church, our society, and indeed the world is behaving, that COVID-19 is being treated as if it was the most dangerous disease we have ever encountered in our lifetime. We can all see that, right? I know I’m not the oldest one reading this, but I’m no spring chicken, either. And I can’t recall any time in my life when the normal functioning of every aspect of our public and private lives has been disrupted in a way that even comes close to the way our lives have been disrupted for the sake of COVID-19. Can you?
But is it, though? Is COVID-19 the dangerous pestilence that mankind is taking it to be? Early on, when it was still a “novel” virus, an overabundance of caution was certainly warranted, and perhaps even laudable.
We are far wiser now, and our knowledge of the virus has grown immensely. Sadly, as it has become deeply politicized, so has misinformation about it. But even with the misinformation–even with the inflated case counts due to counting the same person’s multiple positive retests as new cases, and even with the inflated death counts due to equating persons that died WITH the virus as persons that died FROM it, even with so many statistics presented to us being misrepresented to us–I know that you also see the same thing I do, and you also suspect that COVID-19 isn’t THIS dangerous, that it’s not even remotely as dangerous as all the attention we’re giving it.
But that’s not the story we hear on the news. From the 24-hour news networks, we are fed a constant diet of doom and gloom. And on social media, I’ve personally witnessed a concerted effort on numerous occasions to silence, censor, and discredit any doctor that dares to suggest that the virus is not as dangerous as we’re imagining it to be, or that HCQ, which has been regarded as a safe drug for decades, can be an effective treatment under the right circumstances.
And when I see this vast gulf between what the reality of this virus is versus what we are being told on many fronts that it is, paired with the fact that voices that try to offer an alternative view are being actively muzzled, I begin to suspect one very disturbing possibility: the father of lies is working overtime!
Yes, I am not embarrassed to admit, I think COVID-19 has become a spiritual battle.
And at the moment, Satan is winning. In our fervor to promote “safety,” citizens throughout our country have allowed incredible levels of government and institutional overreach, all in the name of the public good. Many have become forcibly unemployed by their state for months. A staggering number of small businesses will never return. Isolation and hopelessness have spiked suicide rates. And many beloved mothers, fathers, sons, and daughters have died utterly alone, prevented by hospitals from being visited even by their closest family members. Perhaps most distressing to us as Christians, churches in many parts of the country were not allowed by their local governments to assemble, and some still may not. And all of this for the sake of protecting the community from a virus that, as it plays itself out, increasingly seems roughly equivalent to the seasonal flu.
Meanwhile, the fear, anger, and hopelessness fostered by the draconian measures taken throughout our country to deal with this virus has created a perfect environment for civil unrest, easily setting off riots throughout our country based on yet another lie (have you seen the full body cam footage of George Floyd’s arrest, and the full autopsy report)? And on a smaller scale, notorious “Karens” throughout the country have assaulted numerous people for the crime of not wearing a mask. And it’s clear that they feel absolutely justified in doing so, even when they assault the elderly. For the common good.
So let’s talk about masks.
My issue with masks has never been on medical grounds. In light of all the conflicting information surrounding masks, I actually purchased an oxygen and heart rate monitor to conduct my own tests regarding the effect of wearing a mask and any potential negative impact. In my testing, I found that wearing a mask does affect me negatively, though not to a degree that I am concerned about. However, we also found that ReNae is affected in a way that could be significant, especially after wearing one for an extended period. What’s clear is that a person’s physiological response to wearing a mask is highly individual: one size does not fit all.
My issue with wearing masks is actually on psychological grounds. Whenever a person goes out into the community and they see the “new” normal, it reinforces for them this mythology that we are fighting an unprecedented danger, and all the fear and anxiety that goes with that. Masks are perhaps the most visible and most conspicuous display of this, because they are so foreign to our normal lives. It’s a subtle thing, but when you put your own mask on, it reinforces at a subconscious level both that there is a danger and that you’re at risk, whether it’s true or not. And when you look around you and see others wearing their masks, that notion roots even deeper. Multiply that by all the other COVID-related disruptions we now encounter in our daily lives, and the effect is compounded even further. As this reinforcement of the lie continues to take root, we will soon have a society clamoring for salvation from a vaccine that has been rushed to production, poorly tested, likely ineffective, and potentially more dangerous than the disease itself–and they will gladly force it upon all people, all for the common good…to save us from a danger that is grossly exaggerated.
All this fear and chaos makes Satan’s job easy. So I do not wear a mask because (as is probably clear at this point) I don’t believe anybody is actually endangered by me not wearing one (at least no more endangered than in any other flu season in which we have not worn masks), but more importantly, I do not wear a mask because I don’t wish to aid Satan’s cause.
I certainly don’t wish to suggest that wearing masks is sin. Indeed, most people push for mask mandates with the greatest of intentions. Certainly within our church, the desire to require masks is intended for the good of all people. And this, I think, is where we get our best glimpse of Satan’s fingerprints. It is often his way to take our good desires and poison them. And in his devious genius, he is here twisting our desire to protect the health and well being of others to trick us into demanding that everybody wear these masks, which serves only to feed the fire that he’s building with this overblown reaction to COVID. In my estimation, the good that is accomplished by doing so is nominal compared to the enormous harm that is accomplished instead. For the danger posed by the virus is insignificant but the fear, anxiety, and chaos caused by prolonging this far overblown response to it is sharply real!
I don’t require that you agree with me. For some of you, perhaps even many of you, my views may be many steps removed from your assessment of the danger posed by the virus and of our society’s reaction to it. For me, it is enough that you know where I am coming from.
In light of all of this, my desire would be to not only refrain from mandating masks at church, but to return to the “old normal” as quickly as we can, to fire an arrow at Satan’s plans and speed the end of this farce. I suspect that might be a hard sell, for Satan has already enslaved many to fear; for us to suddenly treat COVID-19 with the level of concern that it warrants might seem to be madness to our members and to our community. But whatever manner we might rapidly and diplomatically return to normalcy, I heartily recommend.
May God grant us each a heart of wisdom!