By Kathy Mehuron and Jim Tabor
Essential workers are out on the front line of exposure to COVID-19 every day, masks and all. We’re grateful. We need them and humbly thank them for their service. In contrast, those of us able to work from the safety of our own homes are doing so. We’re also putting social interactions on hold and striving to honor the directives of our exemplary Governor Phil Scott.
Simply avoiding exposure to the novel virus is a prudent measure. We can keep from getting sick ourselves and overwhelming our limited medical system. We can also avoid spreading the disease to the vulnerable who are at higher risk of death. Here we all are, hunkered down awaiting the vaccine we know is coming. Though we understand the benefits, it has taken a psychological toll on many.
We’re lonely. We miss our usual routines. For many of us, the usual channels of our spiritual lives have been disrupted as well. The spiritual resources, so useful to help us cope with the distress and uncertainty of this time, are hard to come by. If ever there was a time to gather and pray, it’s now. But doing so turns out to be a dilemma that is counterintuitive.
It’s extra difficult for Catholics, who have an obligation to attend Mass on Sunday. Prepandemic, it was a hard and fast rule. Parishioners were required to attend. Even though many have underlying medical conditions that call for them to stay home from church, they find themselves conflicted by doing so. Weighing the advice of Drs. Fauci and Levine against a lifetime of religious training is tough. It’s a pretty stoic bunch, accustomed to the discipline, even if they had a cold or a late Saturday night. But as we face more deaths from the post-holiday surge that is coming, every news channel tells us to avoid gatherings.
Father Matthew Rensch, who is our new pastor of the Catholic community of Waterbury and The Valley has an innovative solution. He has been posting Mass live on Facebook as Catholic Community of Waterbury and The Valley since the summer for those who are isolating. Now, he will add the debut of live Mass on Channel 44 thanks to the help of MRVTV’s Tony Italiano. Both offerings are Sunday mornings at 9 from St. Andrews Church in Waterbury.
Father said, “The challenges of this time remind me of a quote of the early Christian martyrs. They said, ‘Sine Dominico, non possumus.’ Without Sunday, we cannot. The worship of God was their life. They could not live without it -- without it, life was not worth living. The same mentality is that of many of our Catholics. The necessity of the worship of God has seeped into the fabric of their lives. Sine Dominico, non possumus.”
“So now, as we look for ways to mitigate the risk of contracting or spreading the virus, the various technological means have provided a way to continue to gather and worship in some way. In my previous assignment in Rutland, Fr. Bernie had spearheaded the effort to provide virtual options. So, when I arrived here in July, it was almost as simple as plug and chug. For those at high risk or unable to travel, it has been a lifeline.”
Mehuron and Tabor live in Waitsfield.