Letters • June 29, 2020


Consider the impacts of returning to Mass

The COVID-19 pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives, including how we worship. It has been challenging with the abrupt interruption of our ability to come together once a week to celebrate mass and be able to receive the Eucharist.

I struggle with now that we have permission to attend public Mass with modifications. Is it time yet to return? Will people, particularly those in a vulnerable population, feel like they must attend now that they have the opportunity?

More than 100,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the United States and many more have suffered. I beg that gives us pause. Despite the challenges, more of us are alive and well because of the measures that we have taken, lessening the impact of the disease.

As we debate and return to our places of worship to celebrate in a communal setting, I hope we think less of ourselves and our desire to return to public Mass and think more of others with whom we may come in contact in doing so.

As Catholics we hold all life sacred. Are we putting others at risk by the decision that we are making to attend mass again? Are we thinking of our pro-life stance as we make that decision? I pray that we are. -Sandy Wittig, North Chesterfield

Put first things first

“But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well” (Mt 6:33). How do we do so? “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind” and “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Anything that deviates from rather than illuminates those unmodified commandments is not of God.

From our progenitors’ Original Sin to the present day, all of our ills are directly attributable to disobedience to the commandments of God. Our personal disobedience may not necessarily be the cause of our ills. In those occasions where others’ disobedience causes our ills, we should rejoice that Christ calls us to share in the sacrifice of his own innocent sufferings.

C.S. Lewis wrote, “Put first things first and we get second things thrown in: put second things first & we lose both first and second things.”

Certainly, social ills such as abortion and racism need addressing. Possible solutions abound with unintended consequences aplenty. Calls for implementing anti-racism and racial justice sound good on the surface but have no substance.

What is justice other than “the constant and firm will to give their due to God and neighbor” (CCC 1807)? What special racial justice exists before God who sees us entirely, without the veneer of flesh? What is anti-racism but a politically expedient term for loving one’s neighbor as oneself?

The only surefire way to address past, present and future ills without losing peace, justice and our souls is to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.”

– Timothy Olmsted, Farmville

Value, respect everyone

Racial discrimination affects one’s life chances and the stress of contracting and dying from COVID 19. The stressors associated with being discriminated against on racial ethnic issues affects mental and physical health. Mental health services should be readily available to those in need of therapy.

Can you understand the impact on black families affected by these three issues with no jobs, no resources and no home to go to because they cannot pay the rent? Picture a black family. The husband is looking for work, he may not return home because he was just killed by a white police officer.

Likewise, the impact of the pandemic that can be explained by social and economic stigmas, risks at work, inequalities in the prevalence of conditions such as obesity, diabetes, hypertension and asthma can increase the severity of the pandemic.

Many blacks are dying because they cannot afford health insurance. Many white physicians close doors on low-income black patients. Black doctors are needed. Our key issues are racism, health care and economic equality.

Recommendations for state and local leadership: act now against racism and inequalities against minorities. Each person must be valued and respected. There is no place in this world for historic racism, social inequalities or ending one’s life.

Individual dignity and self-respect are strengthened by the respect and affection of your neighbors. Let us live in peace and love for each other.

– Lois S. Williams, Virginia Beach

Find a ministry, make a difference

Re: “All Catholics must work for racial justice” (Catholic Virginian, June 15): My brother is named after St. Martin de Pores. Do you have a clue about American Catholic history?

Catholics have been working for authentic social justice for centuries! Who do you think educated families on the frontier and in the rural and prejudiced South, along with a prejudiced America?

Recall, Thomas Jefferson said, “While we might differ in philosophical approach and type of governance, we are united in one thing, our despisement of papists.”

It was courageous Catholic nuns, brothers and laity who rolled up their sleeves and risked life and limb for their faith to educate the poor and slaves and minister to the afflicted. As legacy, today there are some 7,000 parochial schools across the country educating over 2 million students, mostly in inner cities.

It was Catholics who established 644 hospitals in impoverished city centers and remote rural regions so that today “one of every two persons” who goes to an emergency room goes to a Catholic hospital. That’s a tremendous statement.

As far as reaching out to the poor, 2,900 Catholic social outreach centers assist the impoverished with food, housing and rent control.

All of it meaning that Catholics, for centuries, have been making a difference in African American lives, as well as for the poor across the nation. So, study Catholic history before demanding Catholic social action. Then find a ministry and pitch in to really make a difference.

– Fran Rodgers, Virginia Beach

God is at work

I had occasion to see God at work this week. An unaccountable lessening of fear in these days of pandemic enabled me to actually attend Mass and comfortably so. The humanitarian reason for a friend’s delay in getting necessary medication was shared with me. Thus, I proclaim, ” God was at work for me and a friend this fine day!”

Those two events reminded me, again, God does truly work in wondrous ways — a lot!Our founding documents were made by our Lord working through fault-ridden humans, moving us forward.

He gave us his son to teach and then redeem us through a birth in a stable far from home and family; through a “modest” life as a carpenter’s son; through dying a horrible death before the Resurrection.

We sense and know these things by training, example, experience. Every once in a while, at least for me, this truth abounds: we should not be too quick upon the stage — actual or virtual! Discernment is paramount in fixing that which is wrong.

In trying to make things right, be alert! God is at work! Look for him!

– Elizabeth Gillam, Appomattox

Safeguard life in all stages

In response to the letter “What Catholic politicians must do” (Catholic Virginian, June 1): Ted Cors asks politicians to reconsider their stand on Roe v. Wade to protect the sanctity of life. I propose that protecting the sanctity of life is not limited to a politician’s actions on abortion; it includes their views and actions concerning the care of people at all stages of life.

If Catholics believe that politicians should actively work to overturn Roe v. Wade, there must be corresponding expectations toward stopping the death penalty, providing affordable housing, ending hunger, ensuring access to high quality health care and improving conditions for immigrants.

If Catholics genuinely feel obligated to safeguard the sanctity of life, then that duty does not end when a child is born; it is a commitment to protecting human life in its entirety.

By focusing solely on a politician’s views on Roe v. Wade, we fail to hold them accountable for taking action to ensure the quality of human life. Without this accountability, politicians who express a desire to stop abortion will take the Catholic vote for granted and see no reason to be concerned with the impact of their other actions — or failures to take action.

– Theresa D. King, Rockville

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