How has the Church burried the dead during epic illnesses (Black Plague, 1917 Flu); and how would She guide the faithful to handel an epidemic in today’s climate?
You know, I think this depends on the country and area. I know that there are old cemeteries in the USA were you find grave after grave of folks who died in 1917-1918 due to the flu epidemic. I also know of some in Canada as we had many family members die there as well.
In very severe situation I know that the dead are usually burned. When the death rate is extreme and disease is communicable there really is not other choice. They even create mass graves. It really could not be helped in the past, and honestly I think we could still see that if a true pandemic occurred in which death rates were high.
I guess I’m exploring how ready the Church is for something like a Pandemic. Many governments have practiced what to do. We have already recorded what happened in past times: Black Death, 1917 Flu, and jailing/death of priests (Fatima)
I guess I see that we already have a shortage of Priests & Deacons. So, how would sacraments, and ceremonies like funerals be guided by the church in today’s climate with our shortage of resources?
I am going out on a limb here and I am going to say we don’t have a shortage of either Priests or Deacons. Yes, I know the numbers, I know how there are Priests who serve more than one Parish and so on. But I often think if we really looked hard at how faithful the masses truly are, we would not find that many true Christians out there.
Over simplified example: My parish is half empty now. Used to be full of people. Now let Ash Wednesday come around, or Christmas Eve. Holy cow! Standing room only with extra Masses to boot. Where are all these people the rest of the year?
In addition a near by parish was built a mere two miles away back in the day. The supposed reason was to handle the number of folks attending Mass. The real reason had more to do with bigotry as many of us old timers remember. The result? Two parishes on top of each, one nearly emptied except for the poor and Hispanics and other poor members of the community. In addition, the school closed because the folks with the money and that thought the Hispanics and poor where beneath them put their kids in the new school at the new parish. Sad but true story.
So one parish is impoverished and the other is a “white flight” parish to this day. Do we really have a shortage of priests? I don’t think so. We have some bad ideas, we make bad choices, there are bade notions and selfishness to play in all of this. There was no need for the second parish. Now there are two Churches that must have priests assigned to them. I think that goes on more than we can imagine.
I believe God gives us what we need. Maybe we only need the number of Priests we have because other things need to change first.
Sure ppl flock to the church at Christmas and Easter; and neglect going the rest of the year. We can certainly do better. However, sickness and death have a unique way of opening peoples eyes and often they sincerely repent when confronted with sickness and death. I myself had no concept of what death was until I held my dad’s hand and read him Winnie the Pooh while he died (I didn’t know God then).
How many ppl will flock back to the church if there is a pandemic? Will the church be prepared to show Gods mercy if a wave like this occurs while priests/deacons are also exposed to sickness?