We were told not to go to church -- we went anyway

This Easter morning the doors of my Catholic church, a large 1970s clamshell-style building situated on a leafy-green corner in a suburban neighborhood, were locked.  In an admittedly subdued last-ditch effort to grasp at the remains of normalcy, we got up, got dressed, loaded the kids into the car, and went anyway.  We walked the grounds, made a flower delivery to the small grotto near the church’s elementary school, and paused to watch a few cars come and go from the parking lot.  Our pastor, keenly aware of parishioners’ needs during the pandemic and statewide lock down, had made parking lot adoration open to all.

Many American Catholics have unknowingly grown accustomed to the gentle disarming breeze of an oppression that blows across our safe and peaceful church campuses.  While we know that same wind roars at gale force in the direction of other faithful Catholics throughout the world, we believe we sit comfortably under the protections guaranteed by the Constitution.  On a typical Sunday, after offering prayers for those weathering the storm in some far-flung corner of the world, discussion turns to work and upcoming beach trips over coffee and donuts in the vestibule.  Being an American Catholic is a fairly easy thing when you ignore the encroaching darkness.

Not all Catholics practice their faith so lazily.  In China, the true Chinese Catholic 

The Church cries out desperately after being abandoned and forced underground by the Vatican in a profoundly misguided (and perhaps sinister) effort to appease the godless politburo.  In Africa and the Middle East, Christians are murdered with numbing regularity. In France, sometimes called the eldest daughter of the Church, cathedrals have been burned, sacred art desecrated, and priests and laypeople attacked. While it is rarely reported by the mainstream press, or even in the pages of leading Catholic newspapers, it is nonetheless occurring with an increasing horror.

Perhaps naively, I never actually thought there would be a day when I would be locked out of Mass by my mayor, my governor and, most disappointingly, by my bishop.  But on this Easter Sunday, like the three Sundays before it, and for indefinite Sundays to come, it is American Catholics who have found ourselves living under a totalitarian dictate. 

Virtual services are comforting but do not fulfill the obligations of our faith. Catholics must attend mass. We must receive sacramental communion, especially in the face of sickness and death. It is an ancient edict that many (at times, myself included) have taken as a suggestion rather than a fundamental obligation of the Catholic faith.  There is no getting around the fact that receiving the Eucharist is the reason for mass. There is no video and no diocesan-wide dispensation that can take its place.

As data increasingly indicates, the threat of this virus is not what we should fear.  Rather it is the ease at which many of our Catholic leaders and faithful laypeople have capitulated with little public protest. There is an unnerving void of courage in the American Catholic Church.

Jesus overcame injustice and death, but not without a fierce fight.  Perhaps that is the teaching that many of our clergy may have missed this Easter Sunday.  Our faith is under attack.  When we can once again gather in our comfortable corners of faith to pray, we should not be lulled into ignoring reality.  The storm is here.

Laura Walsh is a stay-at-home mother, millennial, and lifelong Catholic living in the suburban south.

This Easter morning the doors of my Catholic church, a large 1970s clamshell-style building situated on a leafy-green corner in a suburban neighborhood, were locked.  In an admittedly subdued last-ditch effort to grasp at the remains of normalcy, we got up, got dressed, loaded the kids into the car, and went anyway.  We walked the grounds, made a flower delivery to the small grotto near the church’s elementary school, and paused to watch a few cars come and go from the parking lot.  Our pastor, keenly aware of parishioners’ needs during the pandemic and statewide lock down, had made parking lot adoration open to all.

Many American Catholics have unknowingly grown accustomed to the gentle disarming breeze of an oppression that blows across our safe and peaceful church campuses.  While we know that same wind roars at gale force in the direction of other faithful Catholics throughout the world, we believe we sit comfortably under the protections guaranteed by the Constitution.  On a typical Sunday, after offering prayers for those weathering the storm in some far-flung corner of the world, discussion turns to work and upcoming beach trips over coffee and donuts in the vestibule.  Being an American Catholic is a fairly easy thing when you ignore the encroaching darkness.

Not all Catholics practice their faith so lazily.  In China, the true Chinese Catholic 

The Church cries out desperately after being abandoned and forced underground by the Vatican in a profoundly misguided (and perhaps sinister) effort to appease the godless politburo.  In Africa and the Middle East, Christians are murdered with numbing regularity. In France, sometimes called the eldest daughter of the Church, cathedrals have been burned, sacred art desecrated, and priests and laypeople attacked. While it is rarely reported by the mainstream press, or even in the pages of leading Catholic newspapers, it is nonetheless occurring with an increasing horror.

Perhaps naively, I never actually thought there would be a day when I would be locked out of Mass by my mayor, my governor and, most disappointingly, by my bishop.  But on this Easter Sunday, like the three Sundays before it, and for indefinite Sundays to come, it is American Catholics who have found ourselves living under a totalitarian dictate. 

Virtual services are comforting but do not fulfill the obligations of our faith. Catholics must attend mass. We must receive sacramental communion, especially in the face of sickness and death. It is an ancient edict that many (at times, myself included) have taken as a suggestion rather than a fundamental obligation of the Catholic faith.  There is no getting around the fact that receiving the Eucharist is the reason for mass. There is no video and no diocesan-wide dispensation that can take its place.

As data increasingly indicates, the threat of this virus is not what we should fear.  Rather it is the ease at which many of our Catholic leaders and faithful laypeople have capitulated with little public protest. There is an unnerving void of courage in the American Catholic Church.

Jesus overcame injustice and death, but not without a fierce fight.  Perhaps that is the teaching that many of our clergy may have missed this Easter Sunday.  Our faith is under attack.  When we can once again gather in our comfortable corners of faith to pray, we should not be lulled into ignoring reality.  The storm is here.

Laura Walsh is a stay-at-home mother, millennial, and lifelong Catholic living in the suburban south.