We are about to begin the celebration of Easter but this year will be like no other. We are in the midst of a crisis like no other we have faced before.
In keeping with Federal and State guidelines, businesses and churches have shut down to avoid spreading the Corona Virus. We have been told that only essential businesses and services will be allowed to operate until this pandemic is under control. In cooperating with State officials, the diocese has discontinued all religious services until further notice. For the first time in our nation’s history, churches will be closed on Easter Sunday.
While this may be the responsible thing to do, I question what the State has defined as essential during this shutdown. Obviously, hospitals and medical and dental clinics for emergency procedures are essential. And yes, grocery stores, pharmacies and gas stations are essential as well. Restaurants are limited to carry out only. Construction as well as utility companies continue day to day operations. Air travel is down 95% from last year and airports resemble more of a ghost town than busy centers of transportation. Even a liquor store in Kankakee put up a sign saying “We are essential, drive up window open”.
I don’t think anyone questions the above as essential but I am questioning whether some other businesses deemed essential are really that. In most states, abortion clinics are functioning. Medical cannabis facilities are open and I imagine busy. So let me get this straight, during the COVID-19 crisis, abortion and cannabis clinics are seen as essential and must remain open while churches and the receiving of Eucharist on the holiest day of the year are labeled non-essential.
When the dust settles and we have a chance to assess what happened during this crisis and how we responded to it, I hope we will realign our priorities. Western civilization and law are rooted in the Easter miracle. Parents raise their children with Judeo-Christian values. The Ten Commandments are the basis of our relationship with one another and God. These values are essential and should not be dismissed during a time of crisis when people need the reassurances of their faith.
Yes, Easter is essential. Church plays an important role in the community and we should always be there for one another. I wish you a blessed Easter and hope you will celebrate the holiday to the fullest under these dire circumstances. Remember, Christ is risen! He has risen indeed, alleluia!
Rev. Ron Neitzke