Cleansing Fire

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40 days; is it time yet to give us back our Mass?

April 21st, 2020, Promulgated by Diane Harris

For many Catholics, Sunday March 15 (the Ides of March, ironically; aka ‘Render to Caesar’) was the last day they received Holy Communion. For daily Mass attendees, March 16 or 17 was possibly their  last public reception of  the Holy Eucharist. Depending on how one counts, 40 days will be elapsed by this coming Saturday’s Vigil Mass, or Sunday’s Mass which is the Third Sunday of Easter (OF) or the Second Sunday after Easter (EF).

We know that the number 40 is very significant in biblical history. Whether it is found in the Old Testament’s 40 days and nights of rain on Noah and the Ark or 40 years of wandering in the Wilderness, or 40 days of Christ’s fast in preparation for His ministry or the 40 hours He spent in the tomb (and upon which 40 hours devotion is offered), 40 is a number of waiting on God, and of purification. “Quarantine” comes from Middle English, quarentine, from Medieval Latin quarentina (“forty days”), from Latin quadragint (“forty”). I’m not telling anyone what to do, but it seems just plain foolish to miss an opportunity to pray now, after thirsting 40 days to be freed of the coronavirus chastisement, burden and fear. 

Moreover, doesn’t it seem like the perfect time for the hierarchy to find its own courage, to reclaim its rightful position vs. yielding to states which show what they proclaim by all manner of sin, which they not only permit, but enable and promote?  Even some of the badly divided U.S. bishops seem to have come together to urge COVID-19 vaccine development not use aborted babies. Could it be a sign of things to come? Could it be, at least a hope, that our prelates might also agree that it is time to permit some public Masses to be said, even while urging those at most risk to continue to use live-streamed Masses for their own safety?

There is public argument regarding whether or not the coronavirus is a chastisement or not. The more liberal bishops and other clergy seem to argue the ridiculous point of view that nature is rebelling. In a separate post there will be a recounting of how God uses plague and famine to discipline those who are caught in sin. There will be another post soon on the biblical arguments for chastisement. But what is interesting is that some of the more traditional prelates seem to recognize chastisement when it comes. If there is reluctance to again start up Masses for the Laity, perhaps it is because of the great sense of sinfulness which has been revealed in recent years in God’s Church, and the expectation that the need for chastisement still isn’t being taken seriously, and the sins of the shepherds will continue to be visited upon the flock.

 

St George protecting Gozo (Malta) against the plague by Giovanni Battista Conti

 

But something else is happening this week, to which we should show some attention. On Thursday, April 23rd, three days before the end of the 40 days, is the Feast of St. George, a 4th century martyr under Diocletian. We are used to hearing “St. George and the Dragon” which makes us wonder just what is this “dragon,” a mythical figure or not? Most art portrays horrendous illustrations of what the dragon might look like.

 

That leads us to wonder if the “dragon” might not be something else, not of the physical realm to do battle, but physically true nonetheless, yet not able to be portrayed? That pondering leads to looking up St. George’s patronages. Right after a number of military items, we find what is of great current interest. St. George is listed as a patron for those who suffer “from plague. leprosy, and syphilis.” Aha! now the dragon makes more sense — an awesome and deadly force for which man’s only defense is avoidance (quarantine) and prayer for intercession. And because God chastises with the “sword, pestilence and famine” we might also remember St. George’s patronage of the military symbols and of farmers. Several saints are patrons for intercession to remove plague; let’s not miss a single one who can intercede for us!

 

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