Tuesday, 17 March 2020

Dear Bishops: Is there is a better way than chaining the church door?

Dear Bishops:

As someone in a higher-risk category that could be seriously affected should I contract the China-Wuhan Virus, I understand deeply and personally your actions. Churches can be dirty places. Holy Water fonts are cesspools of bacteria and viruses at the best of times. Every priest should change it ever day. How many of us have seen scum floating in it. The handshake of peace is another transmitter of germs as is the Chalice. These you know and act upon. Holy Communion is worse in the hand than on the tongue provided it is distributed by a priest who knows how to administer it but we understand even there, there can be transmission. The tops of pew seats where the faithful place their hands, door handles and plates, all surfaces are potential for transmission of the China-Wuhan Virus and are rarely, if ever, cleaned and disinfected.

I get it. I think most get it.

This problem is not going away next week, maybe not next month. You are about to cancel the Holy Week services, if you've not done so already. How long are you prepared to go on. July? August? How will you offer Confessions? Will priests really offer a daily Mass, Pro Populo? How many will get lazy and figure, "what's the point? nobody's here." 

Currently, the recommendations is for less than gatherings of 250. But is there another option?

What about the issuance of tickets to 40% of that number or 40% of the occupancy of the church? No charge on them, of course, but access tickets picked up on later than 72 hours before Sunday Mass. 

Close every second pew. Instruct everyone to site 2 metres or 6 feet apart. 

No Holy Communion for any faithful. Ushers or security at the door to lock it at Mass. Disinfect all surfaces. Should the legitimate civil authority reduce the number of gatherings, it can be adjusted.

Have you set up live-streaming from your Cathedral?

After all, if a corporate executive such as Galen Weston can think this creatively, where are you?

In my mailbox this morning was this letter from Galen Weston of the retail conglomerate which includes Loblaws, Shopper's Drug Mart, NoFrills, etc.

Sound advice, maybe better than the bishops?

Hi Everyone,

Things continue to move fast and change quickly.

Earlier today the Canadian Government announced they are closing our international borders to limit the impact of COVID-19. As each of us try to understand how that will affect our daily lives, our friends, and our families, I wanted to reach out again.

Those who went shopping recently will have seen extraordinary numbers of people in stores, long lines, and aisles empty of product. This was a result of extreme levels of buying as millions of Canadians stocked up their kitchens and medicine cabinets. I’m sure the many photos of bare shelves on social media only increased your level of concern.

First and foremost. Do not worry. We are not running out of food or essential supplies. Our supply chain and store teams are responding to the spikes in volume and quickly getting the most important items back on the shelf. Volumes are already normalizing somewhat, and we are catching up. There are a few items, like hand sanitizer, that may take longer to get back, but otherwise we are in good shape.

Another concern you may have is that your supermarket or drugstore could raise prices on the items you and your family need most. Do not worry. This will not happen at our stores. We will not raise a single price on any item to take advantage of COVID-19.

Some of you may also be worried that your local Shoppers Drug Mart or supermarket could close as part of shutting down certain stores and services. Do not worry. We have been in contact with both Provincial and Federal governments. We all agree that food and drug stores are essential services and we must do what we need to in order to keep them operating and serving every community in the days and weeks ahead.

It won't be business as usual. But, you will be able to count on us. Our teams from across the country, at stores in every community, have been hard at work around the clock to live up to that commitment.

Please keep in mind our service relies on keeping them, and in turn you, safe and healthy. That is our top priority, and it may mean limiting the number of people in our stores at any given time as well as asking customers to keep a certain distance from each other while shopping to reduce the risk of making one another sick.

We are prepared for this, and to support those most in need, we are opening some of our stores early with dedicated hours for seniors and people living with disabilities to come before the crowds. We are also encouraging those customers who cannot shop our stores to take advantage of our e-prescribing and PC Express options like click-and-collect and home delivery. Last week we lowered delivery prices and eliminated pick up fees and, just like in our stores, we’ve seen a spike in volume.

We are managing the rising number of orders and ramping up our systems as quickly as we can so customers can shop online with confidence. However, it will be difficult for us to meet all the additional demand, possibly limiting availability for people who are sick, in self-isolation, or at elevated risk. So, I would ask that if you are healthy, mobile, and symptom-free, please do your best to make it into the store.

All of us will face uncertainty and new challenges over the coming days. Our stores and our services will be far from perfect. But, we will do everything in our power to make sure you have what you need for yourselves and your families.

As we have more updates we will continue to communicate, online, in-store, and through our PC Optimum app.

For now, let me leave you with four things:

1.           We have the food, drugs, and essential products you need and that supply will continue even as Canada closes its borders.

2.           We are going to make sure our stores stay up and running to serve your community.

3.           We will not, under any circumstance, change our actions or prices to take advantage of COVID-19.

4.           Please be patient with us when you are shopping, and don’t forget to practice social distancing.

Over the last few days, it has been remarkable to witness Canadians supporting one another in our aisles: Bags carried to cars. Crowds parting so young moms could check out. Cheers for speedy cashiers. Customers helping stock shelves.

One example in particular stood out. A few days ago, someone stuck a handmade sign to the front of a store. It reads “Be kind”. This is great encouragement to cap off perhaps one of the most-tense weeks of our 100 years running stores, and to help all of us prepare for what is next.

Be kind to each other. We will get through it.

Galen Weston


Anonymous said...

From Aid to the Church in Need I received in an email: We are here for you...our thoughts and prayers are with you....contact us if you are in need...
From our bishop: Lock your churches!!!!

Barona said...

Remember when the priest administering Confirmation was only "temporary"? Well we have even less converts and Confirmands than all those years ago when they brought in their permanent "temporary" measure.

As far as Quebec is concerned; daily Mass is usually late afternoon and there are virtually no morning Masses anyhow. This has been in effect for years due to the very elderly population that still goes to daily Mass. So when this is over we'll see Quebec continuing (probably accelerating) her slide. Pessimistic, but I see no repentance, no recognition of wrong doing, no remorse, no humility on the part of these men who wrecked the local Church in once Catholic Quebec.

It must be said that (and I have been critical of Cardinal Collins) here in Toronto, the Archbishop has been stepping up and taking appropriate, prudent action.Churches are open, we can receive on the tongue. All reception of Holy Communion may well be banned for the laity, but this may actually be a blessing in disguise. How many flippantly receive Our Lord? Catholics seemed to be in a far better spiritual state hundreds of years ago, when reception was rare. If Catholics could lead holy lives with reception a mere few times a year, up to and including Leo XIII, perhaps it may not be a bad idea

Tom A. said...

Vox, I think you make a terrible assumption when you act as if the Novus Ordo bishops actually are concerned with the salvation of souls. They are creatures of this world and treat the faithful as if they were simply consumers of their product.

Irenaeus said...

Good point, Barona. I remarked to a friend the other day that this crisis may be a good way of reminding us of how we have taken things for granted, especially when it comes to the Church.

Anonymous said...

Lately, this has been on my mind: “The only arms which will remain for you will be the Rosary and the Sign left by my Son. ” Our Lady of Akita. Lord have mercy on us.

Anonymous said...

So true

Kathleen1031 said...

What a helpful and encouraging communique from a retail outfit. We don't have those stores in the states, but that kind of upbeat and caring missive would be welcome from any quarter. Well done, Sir.