Where is the Church heading after the pandemic?

A recent statement by Cardinal Robert Sarah opens the doors to reflection.

Cardinal Robert Sarah

Newsdesk (September 17, 2020, Gaudium Press) — There is something very delicate about the truth: it must be told at the right time.

When it comes to the Theology of the Holy Trinity, for example, we realize that it took almost 300 years, (since the Church was founded!) to officially proclaim the divinity of Jesus Christ!

Most of the faithful never doubted this truth, of course. But it was needed to have a heretic – in this case, Arius – who would question what no one doubted or perhaps did not even thought: Is Jesus Christ really God?

The fact is that -thanks be to God- there were a St. Alexander and a St. Athanasius who confronted the beast and enlightened consciences by overthrowing the enemy, while there was time… Today, Arius does not represent anything anymore.

As the Ecclesiastes teaches, “there is a time for everything…’

A few days ago, Cardinal Sarah made a statement, encouraging the faithful to attend Mass in person, “without limitations that go beyond what is provided for by the norms of hygiene dictated by public authorities and bishops,” affirming the need to return to the norm

Where will the Church walk after the pandemic?

ality of Christian life, without improvised ritual experiments (referring, of course, to Masses through the Internet or other media). These “virtual” masses are certainly necessary to alleviate the effects of the impossibility of attending Sunday Mass in person. However, he reminds us, “virtual” masses are not “real”.

The exhortation of the Cardinal is certainly useful to give a jolt of reality to many of the faithful. In fact, in much of the world, after almost half a year of confinement, many have simply a kind of “virtual religion”.

As we know, humans are creatures of habit. And the habit of not going to Mass leads to a weakening of the sacramental life, with all the damage this can cause. It is clear that the faithful are gradually returning to the sacraments. But not all… And this is precisely because of a vicious circle, since the sacraments keep the soul in state of grace and in possession of infuse virtues. However, if laziness, convenience, fear or moral duplicity have already taken hold of the soul, how can one be convinced of returning to Mass? This is a sad reality that the Church will have to face in this post-pandemic period.

We still do not know the full effects of Cardinal Sarah’s eminent  statements. But we already know of the effects,  that can cause the closure of churches in the souls of the faithful, even when based on highly justifiable reasons,. However, hope is our anchor! (Hebrews 6.19). And the history of the Church teaches us that, very often, after a period of storm there is a renewal of faith; according to the famous phrase of the Apostle: “Where sin increased, grace abounded” (Romans 5.20). The question is, when will this change of course take place? We do not know yet. The truth is that it will not happen without the help of grace, nor without the strength of the sacraments.

By Oto Pereira.   

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