Bishop Schneider: Lockdown is a trial that can bring about great ‘spiritual benefit’
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May 22, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Bishop Athanasius Schneider said Catholics should accept the situation brought about by the pandemic as a trial, suggesting that such acceptance will produce great spiritual benefit for the Church, “a greater spiritual benefit as if we would not have experienced such a situation.”
Bishop Schneider, along with Fr. Linus Clovis, a canon lawyer of the Archdiocese of Castries, St. Lucia in the West Indies, spoke during a “Question and Answer” session after their talks at the Rome Life Forum last week, delivered online this year because of travel and gathering restrictions due to the global Wuhan virus lockdowns.
This “current purifying divine intervention has the power to show all of us what is truly essential in the Church: the Eucharistic sacrifice of Christ with His Body and Blood and the eternal salvation of immortal souls,” declared Bishop Schneider.
Schneider acknowledged that some may not return to Mass attendance after the pandemic restrictions are relaxed and churches are restored to normal activity, but he seemed to indicate that this might not be entirely bad.
“In general, I think that the time of deprivation of Holy Mass and the sacraments will have the function of purifying the wheat and separating it from the weeds, as Holy Scripture says (see Mt. 3:12),” said Schneider.
“Some people say that we will have a new hunger for the Eucharist after the coronavirus epidemic has passed,” said Schneider. “It is a common human experience that the prolonged deprivation of an important reality inflames the hearts of people with a longing for it. This applies, of course, to those who really believe and love the Eucharist.”
“Perhaps those Catholics who were so accustomed to the Holy of Holies that they came to consider it as something ordinary and common will experience a spiritual conversion and understand and treat the Holy Eucharist henceforth as extraordinary and sublime,” he suggested.
“The current tribulations teach us and train us to remain always faithful to the Lord and to our holy faith, according to the words of the Holy Scripture: ‘The one who endures to the end will be saved’ (Mt. 10:22) and “Be faithful unto death, and I will give you the crown of life” (Rev. 2:10),” he continued. “And only this matters.”
Asked how Catholics can make this period of separation from the Sacraments a fruitful time instead of a time of bitterness and sadness, Bishop Schneider responded with confident optimism.
“This situation forces Catholic families to experience literally the meaning of a domestic church,” said Schneider. “In the absence of the possibility to assist Holy Mass even on Sundays, Catholic parents should gather their family in their home. They should dedicate a holy hour of prayers to sanctify the Day of the Lord and to unite themselves spiritually with the Holy Masses which are celebrated by priests behind closed doors even in their towns or in their vicinity.”
“A Sunday holy hour of a domestic church could be done for instance in the following way: prayer of the Rosary, reading of the Sunday Gospel, Act of Contrition, Act of Spiritual Communion, Litany, prayer for all who suffer and die, for all who are persecuted, prayer for the Pope and the priests, prayer for the end of the current physical and spiritual epidemic,” continued Schneider. “Furthermore, on Sundays parents could gather their children in the afternoon or in the evening and read to them from the Lives of the Saints, especially those stories drawn from times of persecution of the Church.”
Schneider was also asked, “How should we express our disappointment in our bishops’ leadership with regard to finding ways to administer the sacraments during the pandemic?” and “When does obedience to the bishop trump the obedience to Christ?”
“The lay faithful should speak and respectfully demand the return of public Masses and also organize outdoor Masses or other creative forms of celebrating worthily Holy Mass,” he asserted.
“I ask you, please, to importune the shepherds, to disturb them, all of us shepherds, so that we can give you the milk of grace, of doctrine and of leadership,” pleaded Bishop Schneider. “Importune (us)!”
“We need to live out the message of Fatima – each one of us individually, in our families, and in our parishes,” said Fr. Clovis, when asked how the faithful can demand that the hierarchy fulfill Our Lady’s requests. “We can’t, but we can request it.”
He encouraged the formation of small ‘Fatima groups’ throughout the world that might serve, support, and educate priests who in turn might be able to influence their bishops.
He noted that several countries have already been consecrated to the Immaculate Heart of Mary by their bishops, including New Zealand, Australia, the United Kingdom, the United States, and other countries in Europe.
Ultimately, he foresees that “In God’s time even the Holy Father (will) consecrate Russia as Our Lady requires.”
“Don’t lose heart,” encouraged Fr. Clovis, because Our Lady said, “It will be done.”
Fr. Clovis discussed the importance of regular confession, reading the lives of the saints, and wearing a Miraculous Medal and Brown Scapular to form devoted Catholic families.
Above all, he urged everyone to develop the habit of praying the Rosary daily.
“This is a way in which we can reform ourselves, our families, and the world,” he said.