by David M. Carollo –
In 2020 and 2021, in response to the directives of government officials, businesses and churches were closed to stop the spread of the Covid virus. Many felt that this was a stronger response than necessary, and that alternate solutions could have been found to assure the health of the populace. Presumptively well-meaning, the results will long be debated, and the long-term effects of those actions taken across the world will be studied. Businesses that were benchmarks of the communities are no longer there and others have been altered permanently. Behind the scenes in most all these instances are many personal and family tragedies. The damage to people from the effects of business failures and unemployment are yet to be fully realized. Not to minimize these things, but we understand that adversity builds character, and these times can present a great opportunity to help us refocus on what is important in life, specifically our spiritual well-being.
Nothing has had a more serious impact than the separation from God. Closing of churches was a drastic step, especially when somewhat questionable businesses were allowed to continue operations. Whatever our individual opinions are regarding this, the damage suffered by the Church cannot be denied and must lead us to work hard on the repairs now necessary.
I have visited and spoken at many churches and Catholic communities this past year. Pastors and bishops lament the fact that the return rate from online Mass is much lower than hoped. People got comfortable watching from home. I am not talking against the fact that through technology we can substitute during times of emergency, but we are not techno-beings on a permanent track through a virtual world. Asking God to come to us in a spiritual Communion is proper when there is no other option, but unless we receive Him directly, we cannot claim true communion with Him over time. Virtual participation at Mass cannot be the new normal. To be clear, we stream our daily Mass and major events from the Blue Army Shrine, and many people watch to hear the wonderful homilies given by our chaplain and guest bishops and priests. Also, many who cannot leave their homes follow us. We are happy to offer this.
What is the solution to restoring the zeal of previous times? The decline in church attendance precedes the pandemic, so the disinterest that plagues us today is not surprising. We can lament the present situation as it pertains to both society and the Faith, or we can double down on our efforts to elevate and follow the teachings of Holy Mother Church.
The Fatima message, which we promote, directs us to do this. Teaching this hopeful idea to those who look to us should incite optimism. We can never fall into the trap that evil is more powerful than us. Certainly, it is not more powerful than God. His will prevails in the end, and He wills that we stand even taller during times such as this. We must become even brighter as things get darker. The enemy wishes to bring about despair and discouragement, instilling in us a mentality of defeat. We will counter that with an optimism that penetrates the darkest minds and overcomes any thought of defeat.
We must also double down in our support for our clergy, many of whom are dealing with discouragement as they see the importance of church participation and the journey to holiness become less of a priority in this newly defined space. Make no mistake about it; there is no new normal when it comes to our relationship with God. The foundation laid by our Old Testament ancestors and completed by Christ will continue to be the standard of our lives. Any redefinition of this can only lead to a rejection of what we stand for. It is an insult to God.
Our focus is still strongly on the First Saturday’s devotion. When enough people fulfil her requests, the triumph will come. Go to our website, bluearmy.com, and download the “Great Promise Passport” to begin your journey of fulfilling Our Lord’s wish that we make reparation to Mary’s Immaculate Heart. The beautiful consecration made on March 25th by the Holy Father, in union with the many bishops, priests and laity, will bring great fruit if we cooperate with the grace of that day. We can bring this about by our efforts and devotion.
We are an Easter people and in this glorious season we can only be filled with optimism. By being faithful to the recitation of the holy rosary and being consecrated to Our Lady, we can bring about grace to convert and to reconvert this ailing world. We should look to the words of St. Louis De Montfort and direct all to follow the path to Mary:
“Have you strayed from the path leading to heaven? Then call on Mary, for her name means “Star of the Sea, the North Star which guides the ships of our souls during the voyage of this life, and she will guide you to the harbor of eternal salvation.” (The Secret of Mary)
We must follow her and stand as an example to the world and to our fellow Catholics who are still separated from us in this post-pandemic time. Let us come together and join in a loud voice with the praises of God in the pews of our churches once again.
God bless you and Mary keep you in her Immaculate Heart.
David Carollo is the Executive Director of the World Apostolate of Fatima, USA and the National Blue Army Shrine of Our Lady of Fatima. He wrote this for his May 2022 Voice of Fatima e-newsletter.
There are many reasons for the reduction in physical Mass attendance. Health, aging population, weather, and fluctuating degrees of covid are just a few. The one thing that should bring us to church is the Eucharist as David points out. What does this is love for Christ. It begins as our catechism says: we exist to know, love, and serve God, and be happy with Him in eternity. When we know God, we learn to love Him, and the more we love Him, the more we want to serve Him. Using a daily missal every day, praying the rosary every day, reading scripture, and receiving the sacraments are good ways to know God. When enough people do these things, then there will be no empty pews.
I personally think, if I were wanting people to come back to the church, I would personally go to each parishioners’ home and visit with them and let them know I was willing to listen to their concerns & personally invite them back!
What could it hurt? Even if you visited 1 home a week?
Just a thought, but what a world of difference it would make in my life!
I made the First Saturdays if the vigil mass counts,does it or do I have to go to the morning mass?
Steve, you do not need to go to Sunday morning Mass in addition. Remember, for First Saturday, you need to offer your Holy Communion in reparation for sins against the Immaculate Heart. You can do that at a Saturday vigil Mass, and even a Sunday morning Mass if you cannot get to Mass on Saturday. Our Lady appreciates your honest efforts.
The late Fr. Paul Duffner, O.P. of the Rosary Confraternity and Fatima expert, was asked this question. While he said one may indeed attend the Vigil Mass to fulfill Our Lady’s requests for reparation on the First Saturday, only one intention can be offered for a Mass. Therefore it cannot be used for both one’s intention to fulfill the First Saturday request and one’s intention to fulfill one’s Sunday Mass obligation.
The First Saturday devotion asks one to receive Holy Communion and offer that Holy Communion in reparation for the sins against the Immaculate Heart of Mary. One can attend Mass and offer that Mass for the Sunday obligation, but to offer one’s Holy Communion specifically for the intentions of the First Saturday. How often do you present petitions before the Lord as you are going to Holy Communion? On the first Saturday, you would make a specific offering of that Holy Communion in reparation to the IHM.
In the 1920s/30s, it was difficult for some people to get to Mass on Saturdays because of distance or work in the fields. Today, many churches do not have Saturday morning confessions or Mass, but all of them offer Saturday afternoon confessions and vigil Mass. So it is far easier for one to go to confession and receive Holy Communion on the actual Saturday. People have to do these devotions honestly and with right intent for them to be spiritually effective. God knows our hearts and He knows our efforts. Thank you.
Instructed by her Spiritual Director, Sr. Lucia asked Our Lord, ‘and what if someone cannot receive Holy Communion on Saturday? Can they do so on Sunday?’ Jesus replied they could, ‘IF his priests permit it for a good reason.’ This tells us that He wants us to practice the virtue of humility and obedience to the proper Church authority rather than take it upon ourself to decide what we prefer or what is more convenient.
Yes, and Jesus was speaking to her in the 1920s/early 1930s. At that time, it was difficult for some people to get to Mass on Saturdays because of distance or work in the fields. Today, many churches do not have Saturday morning confessions or Mass, but all of them offer Saturday afternoon confessions and vigil Mass. So it is far easier for one to go to confession and receive Holy Communion on the actual Saturday. People have to do these devotions honestly and with right intent for them to be spiritually effective. God knows our hearts and He knows our efforts. Thank you.
I agree with commenter on the church reaching out to its parishioners. I reached out to my church and received no response to an email. I believe more would return to church if we had one mass where the requirement is that everyone be vaccinated and boostered and wear masks would draw a different crowd back to mass. I know my family would go to that mass. I was saddened by the church’s response to those concerned during this pandemic. And to say it is post pandemic right now is incorrect. 2 of my immediate family members just got Covid. We can worship safely, but I don’t see the church responding to that scenario. I also asked about outdoor confession and also did not get any response. I’m sad for the earthly church.