Announcement on the spiritual and practical measures undertaken by our priests during this unprecedented time
It is with a heavy heart that I write to you to inform you that the Society of Saint Pius X, like many public institutions and Catholic dioceses, has to take drastic measures in response to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus). Unfortunately, these measures are not only material; they affect our spiritual lives, the public practice of our faith, the praise we want to give to our God and Master.
We know that to them that love God, all things work together unto good, to such as, according to his purpose, are called to be saints. (Rm. 8: 28)
Few of us have experienced a situation like this in our lives. Suddenly everything has changed! In the blink of an eye, what we took for granted is now very special. Some feel threatened and insecure by a small virus that has overturned public life around the globe.
We know that God rules all things with His almighty power! With our words, we've always confessed this truth. Now, however, facing an inescapable threat, this truth is imposed on us and it challenges us to learn it in reality: He, God, is the Master! We depend on Him. He alone knows how the crisis will develop. We will find out how it will affect us in time.
Even though we take all necessary precautions, for now, plenty is and will always be out of our control. We are in God’s hands! Feeling insecure and aware of our powerlessness, how will we respond? Some, completely overwhelmed by fear, turn towards themselves: they empty the shelves of the stores, thinking of no one else. It is striking how egoism and selfishness blossom in such circumstances and how we can become imprisoned by a merely natural approach. While some panic, others remain unconcerned. Many refuse to acknowledge the fact of their human frailty. They do not want to face the Lenten advice: "Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return..."
As Catholics, we can take this threat as a real spiritual challenge. Let us learn to humble ourselves. We should turn toward God more fervently, giving ourselves in His hands. Let recognize God is in charge of this trial and ordeal, confiding in Him with total faith. Even though He can enter our lives with a glove of iron, we know it His loving hand that touches us.
Therefore, the first measures we must take are of a spiritual nature. In these times, not only do we want to take the precautions to prevent the spread of disease, but we must redouble our prayers and penance, begging for God’s mercy. We will offer a Continuous Mass. This Mass will be the Mass of the day of Lent and the intention is “for protection and deliverance”. We will assign each priest of the District a day where he will say his Mass for this intention and will let you know which priest will say the Mass and where. Please unite yourselves with him and his intention! We will keep this continuous offering of Masses going as long as necessary. I begin this Sunday saying the Mass in Colton; Fr. Steven McDonald will offer Monday’s Mass at the District House.
On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the priests will add the following prayers from the Votive Mass for the Deliverance from Death in Time of Pestilence to the Mass:
O God, who willest not the death of the sinner but that he should repent: welcome with pardon Thy people’s return to Thee: and so long as they are faithful in Thy service, do Thou in Thy clemency withdraw the scourge of Thy wrath. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son…
Let the sacrifice which we now offer succor us, O Lord; may it wholly release us from sin and deliver us from all ruin and destruction. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son...
Graciously hear us, O God our Savior: deliver Thy people from the terrors of Thy wrath, and assure them of that safety which is the gift of Thy mercy. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Thy Son...
The District will also provide a special prayer for every week to add to our daily Rosary or recite during the day. On this 3rd Sunday of Lent, we will start with the Universal Prayer attributed to Pope Clement XI asking for all the virtues necessary for our salvation. It is included below, as well as in a downloadable PDF that you can print and add to your missal or prayer cards.
The practical directives for the U.S. District in response to the spread of COVID-19 (coronavirus) are as follows:
- Anyone who feels even slightly ill must not attend Mass (Sundays or weekdays). Attending Mass when someone is ill, is uncharitable to one’s fellow parishioners. This applies particularly to children, who often are not careful about hygiene. We do not wish to instill fear in the people; however, children can unintentionally spread illness to the elderly, for whom it would be more grave.
- Fr. Wegner personally dispenses all the sick and elderly from the Sunday obligation until further notice. For those who are unable to attend Mass, a Mass with sermon will be broadcasted online every Sunday. You will find the link to the broadcast on sspx.org.
- Holy water fonts are to be emptied. An adequate supply of holy water will nevertheless be ensured so that the laity may fill their own bottles for use at home and on entering the church. New bottles will be supplied for this purpose where possible.
- All food handling (e.g. coffee/donut time after the Masses, potlucks, St. Joseph’s Tables) is canceled until further notice.
- If there are government rulings regarding canceling or reducing the size of gatherings, we will follow the lawful government orders.
- All unnecessary public gatherings will be canceled. Your local priest or coordinator will be in contact regarding specific events at your chapel or school.
- In parishes where the Masses tend to be very full, priests if possible will add additional Masses to reduce the number of faithful at any given Mass.
- A new federal ruling (as of Friday, March 13th) prohibits all visits to nursing homes outside the danger of death, until further notice. This also applies to regular sick calls.
- Priests and laity should also be careful not to shake hands.
- Laity who are feeling ill should not request appointments with priests outside of an emergency.
For our schools:
Where government-ordered closures have been put in place, we will abide by those closures. Schools will provide work for the students to do at home in some format.
Even if the government has not ordered schools closed, we will close for fourteen days if any student or teacher tests positive for COVID-19. In all cases, if the school is closed, it must be disinfected before students return.
Parents should not send their children to school if they are ill — even with a minor ailment. Children kept at home should also be kept separate from other children. Parents should keep any sick child away from the elderly.
Lastly, as with everyone else, this will take a financial toll on your chapel and school. Please be mindful of what you, personally, can do to help. Please continue your regular support to the Church and clergy in general, and specifically to your chapel or school. I understand that many of you might be financially affected by this as well, but almsgiving is a concrete way of living this Lent.
These directives take effect immediately and will remain in place until further notice.
All decisions regarding parish and/or school operations will continue to be determined by developments in the COVID-19 situation in the US, as well as by the effects on each individual community.
Sincerely in Christ,
Fr. Jurgen Wegner
The Universal Prayer (attributed to Pope Clement XI)
O My God, I believe in Thee; do Thou strengthen my faith. All my hopes are in Thee; do Thou secure them. I love Thee with my whole heart; teach me to love Thee daily more and more. I am sorry that I have offended Thee; do Thou increase my sorrow.
I adore Thee as my first beginning. I aspire after Thee as my last end. I give Thee thanks as my constant benefactor. I call upon Thee as my sovereign protector. Deign, O My God, to conduct me by Thy wisdom, to restrain me by Thy justice, to comfort me by Thy mercy, and to defend me by Thy power.
To Thee, I desire to consecrate all my thoughts, words, actions and sufferings; that hence forward, I make think of Thee, speak of Thee, willingly refer all my actions to Thy greater glory, and suffer willingly whatever Thou shalt appoint.
Lord, I desire that in all things Thy will may be done, because it is Thy will, and in the manner that Thou wilt.
I beg of Thee to enlighten my understanding, to inflame my will, to purify my body, and to sanctify my soul.
Give me strength, O My God, to expiate my offences, to overcome my temptations, to subdue my passions, and to acquire the virtues proper for my state.
Fill my heart with tender affection for Thy goodness, hatred for my faults, love for my neighbor, and contempt of the world.
Let me always remember to be submissive to my superiors, charitable to my inferiors, faithful to my friends, and indulgent to my enemies.
Assist me to overcome sensuality by mortification, avarice by alms-deeds, anger by meekness, and tepidity by devotion.
O My God, make me prudent in my undertakings, courageous in danger, patient in afflictions, and humble in prosperity.
Grant that I may be ever attentive at my prayers, temperate at my meals, diligent at my employments, and constant in my resolutions.
Let my conscience be ever upright and pure, my exterior modest, my conversation edifying, and my comportment regular.
Assist me, that I may continually labor to overcome nature, to correspond with Thy grace, to keep Thy commandments and to work out my salvation.
Discover to me, O My God, the nothingness of this world, the greatness of Heaven, the shortness of time, and the length of eternity.
Grant that I may prepare for death, that I may fear Thy judgments, that I may escape hell, and in the end obtain Heaven, through the merits of Our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen.