ASK FATHER: What do we do if the upcoming administration outlaws Mass and the sacraments?

From a reader…


What are the best ways for the laity to remain in a state of grace should the Holy Mass and the sacraments eventually be outlawed by the upcoming Biden/Harris administration?

The simple answer, which isn’t simple at all, is “Don’t commit any mortal sins.”

Also, disciplining yourself over time and working to eliminate your principle faults would be key.

A fervent and sincere Act of Contrition is important.  The Act of Contrition and Acts of Faith, Hope and Love are always important, in good time and in bad.   A good prayer life and a regular examination of conscience militates against habitual sin.  Keeping busy with your tasks is also good preventative medicine.  Idle hands, they say, are the Devil’s workshop.

In a way, the lockdowns and closure of churches should have by now served as a wake up call to a lot of Catholics about how precious our sacraments are, how important our sacred liturgical worship is.

I fear that, after decades of shoddy liturgy and preaching and catechesis, resulting in a decline in belief in the Church’s teaching about the Eucharist, we are not going to recover Sunday participation in our churches.   The demographic sink hole that was opening up under the Church has now been massively accelerated.

I want to take the proposition seriously: outlawing of church services by the upcoming Harris administration.   Yes… I think that can happen.  Seeing what we are seeing after 6 January (the day freedom died?) it looks like it only a matter of time.

Consider something I read today: there is a bill in the New York legislature that would give power to the governor to have individuals or groups arrested and interred for 60 days if they are suspected of being a danger to public health.   And consider that in Washington state counties have said that “racism” is a public health issue.

In other words, any damn thing they don’t like will be cause to put you in a camp.

And to those who will say, “C’mon man! That’ll never happen!”, I say: look around at where we are now after months of COVID-1984.

I read that the Mayor of London is calling for a ban on public worship.  HERE

Sometimes people bring up the idea of priest holes, as in the Elizabethan persecution of Catholics.   I’m afraid that technology today will make that unrealistic.  However, a priest friend in England, where lockdowns have been rather severe, told me some time ago that he had been going about to say Mass in homes for small groups.

I suppose that something along those lines will be necessary.

It might be a good idea for people to start collecting all the things they would need for Mass should a priest be able to come around occasionally.   Have everything he needs so that he doesn’t have to bring it.   Perhaps purchase a portable Mass kit and prepare a suitable space for Mass.  Of course this also means forming a network of like minded Catholics and also supporting a priest or two.   I’d start working on networking like that anyway.

As Propertius wrote, “Semper in absentes felicior aestus amantes” which is more or less “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.

Don’t wait until it is too late.

Make some plans.   Make it part of your preparedness program.

It can’t hurt and it might help.


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
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  1. optiksguy says:

    Father, it is my understanding that to receive forgiveness of mortal sins outside of the sacrament of Penance one must make an Act of Perfect Contrition. Perfect Contrition is sorrow for sins because they offend God, not because you are afraid of punishment. My question is: does Perfect Contrition exclude contrition because of fear of punishment? In other words, is it still Perfect Contrition if you have *both* sorrow for offending God and fear of punishment? Apologies if the question is off base.

  2. optiksguy: The less perfect motive (fear… which is the kind of sorrow for sin called “attrition”) is not opposed to the more perfect motive (love). A person can certainly have both. As a matter of fact, that classic Act of Contrition puts it well:

    O my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended Thee, and I detest all my sins because I dread the loss of Heaven and the pains of hell, but most of all because they have offended Thee, my God, Who art all good and deserving of all my love. …

    In Latin the prayer has a “non solum… sed praesertim… not because… but especially because”.   Both/and, not either/or.

  3. optiksguy says:

    Thank you Father! Definitely puts my mind at ease.

  4. Baritone says:

    Father, I like the idea of having a Mass kit available so the priest does not have to carry one himself, but I have a question:

    If I obtain one of these Mass kits for bad times, wouldn’t the chalice have to be consecrated by a bishop before a priest could use it for Mass? Is there any provision for a priest to consecrate the chalice in an emergency? If I’m understanding this entry on the topic of “chalice” correctly (, it doesn’t look like a bishop may even delegate this to a priest, at least not “in an ordinary way”.

    Thank you for talking candidly about what seems to be coming our way.

  5. Baritone: You have a good point about the consecration of the chalice and the blessing of the other items. The Church’s long tradition is that things for Mass, from the linens to the candles, ought to be blessed before use.

    However, were there to be a time of crisis, as posited, we would all have to do the best we can with what we have. It would be proper, however, once the Mass set was used for Mass, that its components not be used for any profane purpose.

    Moreover, if I remember correctly, once a chalice and patten have been used for Mass, they are considered to be consecrated, whether they were formally consecrated or not beforehand.

  6. kurtmasur says:

    “ However, a priest friend in England, where lockdowns have been rather severe, told me some time ago that he had been going about to say Mass in homes for small groups.”

    Hmmmm…just like in the early Church when it was still underground and being a Christian was illegal. If these are indeed the end times, it would be in a way rather poetic for the Church to return to her original state as Christ had left her, persecuted and underground at the same time.

  7. WVC says:

    What about a table used during Mass? If a priest is in the house and a table is set up, in some way, to serve as the temporary altar or to have the portable altar sit upon it, is that table to be considered consecrated and set aside? I’m asking because I’m thinking if so it would make sense to have some kind of stable card table on hand dedicated to that purpose rather than use the kitchen table or whatnot.

  8. Rob83 says:

    The modern challenge is that electronic devices can give away people’s locations and otherwise spy on them. It is difficult enough getting people to silence their phones during Mass, to say nothing of getting them to leave the things at home and not use the GPS or Google directions when traveling to the secret location of Mass.

    Mass in the home could be problematic if there are lots of tech devices in it, all of which seem to be loaded with cameras and microphones these days. The problem isn’t really hiding the priest so much as it is that the priest’s movements can be tracked fairly easily if his car has GPS, he has a smartphone, or he uses unencrypted e-mails and text messages. Being a 1950s style priest technologically may be a huge challenge.

    A network of faithful that to some extent does word of mouth the old fashioned way is helpful. That could be “chance” meetings while walking the dog or in parking lots of the grocery store or coffee shop, visiting a parishoner’s business to get a slip of paper with their purchase (barber and liquor store would be prime candidates), or any number of ways that

  9. Senor Quixana says:

    Too much bad experience has taught me not to think “it can never happen here.” but it is disheartening to read that some of us are clinging to despair. I would not put it past some of our governors to attempt to suppress public worship for as long as they can get away with it, but I see no rational cause to suspect Joe Biden to pursue the suppression of something he personally engages in more regularly than many of us these days. I will not take up the question of whether he should present himself for communion, but I will take some comfort and hope in the fact that he finds being Catholic is important enough that he keeps showing up. I am not sanguine about the next 4 years, but we are not doing ourselves any favors by clinging to our most outlandish fears. Our current reality is challenging to say the least, and there is prudence in being prepared for worse, but let us not get carried away with our fears. There are still courts (recently filled with Trump appointees) that take the First Amendment seriously and a God who wants our worship. That is cause for more hope than fear.

    That said, keep a rosary handy and use it for more than decoration and get a 1 volume version of the Liturgy of the Hours. Memorizing the more oft used Psalms does not require effort, it just happens with use.

    Finally, remember that Catholicism survived 7 generations in Japan with no priests.

  10. JonPatrick says:

    Senor it is true that we should not allow ourselves to despair but on the other hand we should not count on Biden’s catholicism to save us as I suspect he won’t be in office long and Harris or whoever takes over will be different. The Wuhan virus has at least given us insight as to how easy it is for governments to shut down worship without nary a peep from most courts and regrettably from most of our church leaders. All we can do is hope, pray and don’t worry as God is still in charge.

  11. Grabski says:

    There is an anti tech solution to the problem…field masses

  12. APX says:

    Sometimes people bring up the idea of priest holes, as in the Elizabethan persecution of Catholics. I’m afraid that technology today will make that unrealistic.

    I’m afraid anything done covertly or in a clandestine manner is impossible now with cellphones and people with no common sense who are constantly taking pictures/video and posting it on social media.
    I can see it on Facebook and Instagram now:

    “Super cool!! Clandestine High Mass at St. Byrd Parish!”
    *eye roll*

  13. kimberley jean says:

    Do you like any other options for Mass kit makers? The company that makes the one in your link also makes idols.

  14. WVC says:

    @Senor Quixana – rejection of a false hope is not the same as despair. Saying Biden being Catholic means we should have no fear is about the same as saying Judas can’t be that bad since he was, after all, an Apostle. Nobody hates the Church as much as a lapsed or bad Catholic – there’s lots and lots and lots of evidence to support that statement. Biden himself is a creep and one of the most pathological liars in the political class, and that’s saying a lot. He even based his entire candidacy on the lie that Trump said neo-Nazis were “very fine people” at Charlottesville (a claim that is easily disproven with video evidence, that is until Big Tech removes it as part of the Purge). He calls his son Hunter Biden a great guy – do you know what kind of video footage was on that laptop the FBI and DOJ refused to investigate? I’ve read descriptions (I refuse to watch it myself), and it’s too horrific to repeat on this blog. It was posted on PornHub, if that gives you an indication. That’s Biden’s idea of a “good man.”

    Consider what 2020 and 2021 to date have shown us – the government can and will shut down public worship on a whim, the courts cannot be trusted to fulfill their legal duties, and governors can ignore them even after rulings are made against them. Police will NOT defend citizens from rioters. If a citizen defends himself from being attacked by rioters, he is arrested and charged. Churches can be attacked, vandalized, statues of saints torn down and nobody will be arrested or charged. A few windows get broken in the Capital building and it’s “worse than Pearl Harbor” and “the Darkest Day in American History.” Planned Parenthood is allowed to butcher unborn babies, but if someone tries to expose their business model he faces nine felony charges (c.f. David Daleiden). Twitter and Facebook feel free to not just censor, which they’ve been doing for months, but outright ban the current President of the United States (like him or not, he’s sill the President). Attempts to move free speech to other platforms is already under attack.

    Folks, it’s coming and it’s coming very hard and very fast. Everyone should prepare themselves, physically, mentally, and spiritually. This is not despair (I do not fear those who can kill the body), but it is prudence. I’m buying Mass cards, a Missal, and a portable altar to have on hand. And it’s not for my kids – I expect to need it in my lifetime, and I’m already past 40.

  15. jflare29 says:

    I’m somewhat torn on the degree of difficulty we’ll have with these concerns. On one hand, I keep thinking that map and compass have been around since long before GPS. I also keep thinking that disconnecting a GPS from one’s car would rapidly become a less stern crime than attending Mass. On the other hand, …I’ll grant it might be quite the change to make; we might have many discovered if we had large numbers of people suddenly descend on local sporting goods stores to purchase a compass or map.
    I’m also struck by how, if the potential danger wasn’t so grave, the effort to confront the problem would almost be funny. In all seriousness, …using map and compass, the need for knowledge of survival in general, especially outdoors, …these matters mostly come down to what I used to think of as …standard Scout skills. In fact, I recall when my Scout book listed particular (10?) items as outdoor essentials. …Time was too when the US Geological Survey still published maps that one could use for navigating with compass. Last time I looked for one though….. Drat.
    …I begin to consider that perhaps we ought to start working in our local communities to start (re)building some of these skill sets.

  16. jaykay says:

    WVC says: “What about a table used during Mass? If a priest is in the house and a table is set up, in some way, to serve as the temporary altar or to have the portable altar sit upon it, is that table to be considered consecrated and set aside?”

    No, I don’t think so. In relatively recent years there are many examples e.g. in photos of Masses celebrated on bonnets of Jeeps or tailboards of trucks or other ad-hoc tables etc. in WW2 and even as recently as Vietnam (I think). Further back, there were the “station Masses” celebrated in past times in often very humble houses in my own country, Ireland (and not only there) – where the table upon which the Mass was celebrated would quite likely have been the only substantial table in the house, which afterwards would have swiftly reverted to daily use. So I don’t think it would be necessary to do that, albeit if one had the resources it would certainly be laudable.

  17. surritter says:

    “…give power to the governor to have individuals or groups arrested and interred for 60 days.”
    I don’t think it’s a big deal to have someone interred as long as he died of natural causes.
    (I’m just being playful, folks! I know he meant to write “interned.”)

  18. KateD says:

    If we are bereft of the 1st form of public prayer, the Mass, then we can at least engage in the 2nd form of public prayer, the Liturgy of the Hours.

    After that there is private prayers and devotions…the Angelus at 6am, 12 noon and 6 pm, the rosary, chaplets, novenas, etc.

    Holy candles! Haven’t many saints spoken of the importance of having holy candles lit?

  19. MrsAnchor says:

    Father Please! Sarah Conor from the Terminator Movie was my Mom as a Cradle Catholic. So it wasn’t a pleasant Childhood to say the least. The Stoking of the Q psi op wasn’t good for my mental peace at all as she was one of those ppl that in the 70’s tried to seek help for childhood trauma that it turned out to be a CIA kind of MKUltra stuff Roseanne spoke of…

    Please pray for me. This Climate is wrecking my mental peace and it IS clear this is the Bases Loaded for the Anti Christ to appear.

    What better way to make an appearance as if to “save”

    If you can speak more on Recussants and the things to do if families are separated to camps… please speak on this part as Faithful Catholics

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