A video message about the closing of Churches during the coronavirus crisis has spread like wildfire, garnering over 13,000 clicks in less than 10 days. And there is no end in sight…
“I believe that it is an important role for the Church to administer the sacraments and to take care of the pastoral care of her believers,” explains Josef Habsburg, one of the initiators of the video, in an interview with iFamNews.
“Pope Francis says the Church must be concrete and cannot remain virtual,” says one young lady in the video.
Josef recognizes that the prohibition of large gatherings, which includes the celebration of Mass, is for the purpose of protecting people — but he sees room for improvement: “I think that it could have been arranged differently. It is important that believers can receive the sacraments, especially the Eucharist. That is why I believe that Church leaders should do everything possible to celebrate Mass with believers again as soon as possible.”
Safety and health are important. Nevertheless, the spiritual needs must not be forgotten. That is the tenor of the video, and numerous voices agree with this request.
Paul Habsburg, another creator behind the video, says that the implication of the current curtailment of public worship is that “celebrating Holy Mass is not as important as maintaining the health and economy of society. As if the Mass stands in contradiction to health….” He goes on: “In the end the question probably remains a question of faith…
Josef adds: “For me it is quite simple: Jesus Christ, the King of the Universe, the King of Heaven, my Lord and my God, is present in the Mass. I believe strongly in what the Mass does, and that’s what I desire. Online celebrations are good, but it is better when personally present. That’s the way it is, I think.”
Emanuel Mendez de Vigo, another participant in the initiative and the appeal, said: “The desire for the Mass is so strong because everyone has a kind of ‘void’ in him that has to be filled. There is, so to speak, a ‘desire’ for more. Personally, I think you can only get this if you go to Mass, are really there, and can receive Communion. It fills you with joy and love and therefore, especially among young people, this desire is very strong.”
The video quickly made its rounds and was well received by many. In the meantime, another video has emerged of young people appealing to the German bishops – its style, content and goal are the same as the first.
Why do young people make it their business to present their needs to the bishops?
“Young people and young families are less afraid. Motivated by movements like ‘Fridays for future’ and the ability to deal with technology, young people have the hope of having a voice in global events,” answers Paul Habsburg, co-initiator of the video. “In addition, I believe that young people understand the importance of Holy Mass, believe in it, and therefore want change.”
For Fernando Mendez de Vigo, physical participation in the Mass is irreplaceable: “The physical construction of a Church helps to create a right atmosphere in which one can concentrate on prayer. For young families, especially those with children, the Mass is a special place to encounter God, which also helps them to understand themselves.”
In the video, the participants explain that they want to help solve the situation and tackle it themselves. To do this, they make specific suggestions:
“If material is needed, we will bring the protective masks, the disinfectant, and the protective gloves.” And: “We can be ushers and make sure that there is never less than 2 meters between Mass attendees. We can organize lists on which you can sign up to attend Holy Mass. We will disinfect the pews after every service….” These are just a few of the creative suggestions mentioned.
While there has been a lot of feedback on the video, unfortunately the bishops have so far remained silent:
“The feedback was mostly very positive. Some friends, even from Spain and France, wrote to me that they had seen the video and found the initiative really good, especially because the message of the video was constructive and positive. […] As far as I know, bishops have not yet commented on the video. In the end, that’s okay. “
Fernando adds: “In Sweden the Mass was not banned and it is working. By taking the necessary safety precautions, we can also be successful in other countries. Hopefully the video will be a success…”
Paul Habsburg is tempering his expectations: but for him it was important to initiate the conversation. “I am not convinced that this video will lead the Austrian bishops to sponsor Masses or to have celebrations,” he says. “But since there is so much talk about it, I would say that the video is already a success. Through this video, believers have to grapple with their faith and take an active stand on it. ”
Josef sees at least one opportunity in the current situation: “This time is a good opportunity to grow in faith in other ways and to concentrate on prayer and family.”