Why be Catholic at all?

Hello All,

This is my first post, and it is a simple question.

Given the reality of COVID, one can easily buy a McDonalds hamburger but cannot receive the Lord Jesus in the sacrament.

The Church has agreed with the secular gov’t that the sacraments are not considered essential, unlike abortions and McDonalds

Therefore, why be a Catholic if the sacraments are non-essential?

Why go to mass if you can merely ask for a spiritual communion?
Why go to confesssion if you can easily confess straight to God?
Why be baptized if desire is enough?

The protastent churches all believe that if you believe in and desire Christ it is enough.
They believe that the Eucharist is a symbolic gesture that reflects a spiritual communion.
They believe that confession to God is sufficent.

Is the church not now becoming Protestant in act if not in theory?

How does one justify becoming a catholic if in a moment of distress the above is all true?

Asking as someone in the RCIA who has essentially been denied Christ this Easter, who sincerely wishes to be recieved in His one true church, but finds that the above questions really bother me.

Thank you for sincerely trying to help me figure this all out!

Pax in Christo


Dear friend, believe me, like you many are suffering through this situation. It is unfair to blame the Church as if She is totally in control of what is going on. In the past there have been times when a community was deprived of communion or mass. Think of what the Chinese or Russian people endured when the height of the Communist regimes imposed banns on Religion. Read about what is going on in China now. I am not talking about the COVID situation.
In short, prayer, we need to pray and pray a lot, that this situation ends, not only for us but for all those other people that have been denied Christ for so long.


I understand what you are saying. But this doesn’t at all answer the question as to the non-essential nature of the sacraments (as the church now seems to consider them).

I’m wondering how anyone could be convinced that the Church is necessary if the sacraments are superfluous and easily supplanted with more Protestant-esque spiritual doctrines?

Pax in Christo.

I think you are assuming facts not in evidence. You are zeroing in on exceptions. Catholics live by the rule.

Please acquaint yourself with the 5 precepts of the Church.


What things am I assuming?

Read the parable of the sower and see what lesson you might draw from it as it pertains to your situation.


The minimum spiritual requirements do not render the sacraments as non-essential. Yet they have so been rendered. I’m not entirely sure how these five minimums answer my questions outlined above. Perhaps you can illustrate what you had in mind?

Spiritual communion is not the same as a Mass.

We can, but it 1. Requires perfect contrition, and 2. Is not the normative form as established by the Church. The norm has not been overwritten.

Baptism of desire doesn’t take the place of baptism and is not a Sacrament. It’s for when people die who have every intention of receiving the Sacrament and would otherwise have done so (for example, a catechumen dying while in the process of going through RCIA). It is God working outside the Sacrament, not the Sacrament itself.

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Where have you read that “the Church considers Sacraments superfluous?”
Nowhere I have found this, I feel that any decision to suspend masses is taken with a big deal of pain both by the Bishops, priests and laity.
We are all suffering because of this withdrawal from the Sacraments.
People who cannot reconcile with GOD going to anguish hoping to be able soon to be able to go back and confess and receive absolution and most important being able again to partake of the communion with our Lord Jesus Christ. No, the Church did not take this step easily and is asking all of us to pray to the Lord our GOD to push away this chalice just like Jesus did in the garden,


Throughout the Church’s 2,000 year history there have been many people who had no local priest and only saw one when a traveling priest made the rounds every six months or so. If you have the opportunity for the sacraments and neglect them, that’s a problem. If due to disaster or other circumstances you don’t, that’s not held against you, but take what opportunities you can.

And in life or death situations lay persons may baptize others.


You seem to be assuming that this exceptional, never before experienced threat to human life worldwide has somehow made the Church less than it is. It actually makes it better, as the Bishops are our shepherds, and are taking all the flak out of love of the faithful - including you and I. We are called not to agree with them but to obey them.

What you are experiencing may properly be called a crisis of faith. This is unfortunate, but rather common. Instead of distancing yourself from the Church, or becoming critical of her, pray for understanding of why the decisions that have been made are in your best interest.

An invisible enemy has invaded and is claiming lives as we speak. Can we reasonably expect to carry on as usual? No!

Once this subsides - no matter how long it takes - the Church will resume what she has always done.


Spiritual communion is not the same as a Mass.

Apologies, I meant why receive the Lord under the species of bread if I can receive Him spiritually? What then renders the Eucharist spiritually necessary if there is another mean whereby I can commune with Him?

This seems the easiest objection to dela with. You are indeed guaranteed absolution at confession even without perfect contrition.

I understand what you are saying, nevertheless you still haven’t made an answer as to why baptism is therefor necessary if I can merely die with desire to have received the sacrament. It seems that if desire is enough, why is the matter of the sacrament spiritually important?

Many thanks for taking my questions seriously.

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You keep insisting the sacraments have been made “non-essential,” but this isn’t the case. A special dispensation has been given with respect to (and solely limited to) the emergency we are currently in. Even then, the sacraments are still essential, but are being made in different ways than they usually are.

With regard to communion, we are required to make it once a year at minimum. Spiritual communion allows us to do so until the crisis is over.

With regard to confession, we have been encouraged to make an act of contrition to God, which is not the full sacrament of confession. It has always been available, a means of getting right with the Lord until (and only until) we can get to confession with a priest at our earliest convenience. You are still required to confess to a priest as soon as possible in order to be forgiven, although we hope that God, if we are able to make an act of perfect contrition, will forgive us anyway in His mercy if we die before that point.

Baptism by desire is, again, not ideal. The substance to be used is water. If you do not have an excuse to go through the proper form, then baptism by desire is not proper or valid.

Not only this, but the sacraments are still being made available in many places. My church offers mass virtually, then has a system set up where parishioners can drive up and go into church one at a time and receive communion/pray, with disinfecting and social distancing happening all throughout. We are allowing confession in large halls allowing six feet distance. And baptism, I imagine, might occur, but I have not asked.

God bless. Remember, these are special circumstances, and a Church that cannot bend to the spiritual needs of its people in crisis is no Church at all. Christ Himself showed He did not value legalism over essential works when He publicly eschewed sabbath law. The Church doesn’t deliver hamburgers, but salvation. Protestantism does away with far more than sacraments; the doctrine itself is wholly different.

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I don’t mean to say that the Church explicitly so considers the sacraments, but implicit in agreeing that the sacraments have less worth than McDonalds hamburgers seems to be the idea that sacraments are superfluous (not exactly necessary) especially given that there are alternatives (spiritual communion, baptism of desire, etc)

I understand that it wasn’t easy. I only wonder as to the above point.

Pax tibi!

Hi There! Yes, I understand the historical reality you are describing. I am more concerned with the fact that if the alternatives to the sacraments are good enough, why would anyone feel that the sacraments are necessary for salvation? If they aren’t then why would anyone struggle for the sacraments?

Spiritual communion is still not the same as receiving the Eucharist. You are not eating His flesh and drinking His blood. You are not in His physical presence. It is not the same as the Sacrament.

Baptism of Desire requires a desire, but if you actually desire something, if you actually believe the Church and baptism to be what it is, you seek it out. Jesus defined baptism as using water and the Tridentine formula, so that is what we are to seek. As St. Paul says, we are in a race. We do not in a race presume to stand there at the starting line and expect to win by just our desire to win, we must actually move and run towards our goal.

First, Mass is still being celebrated, you just aren’t there. Second, I don’t think in any way is the Church minimizing the importance of the sacraments. If that were true then watching Mass on Youtube would be considered the same thing as being there in person. If that were true then we would be allowed to confess to a priest over the phone, text, or Zoom but we are not. If that were true then we would be allowed to bake up our own bread, drink some grape juice and call it communion. Do you get my point or should I go on?



Our local church has closed door Mass, but we are still having confessions in the “social distancing confessional.”

These are very unique times and our Bishops who have made the decisions for no Masses have done so out of charity for their Parishioners.


This answer makes a lot of sense and is very comforting. I appreciate it. I haven’t yet considered that point. In a sense, it seems based on your answer that the sacrament of the Eucharist offers more than mere spiritual communion, and that level of communion cannot be held outside of the Church. This would render it absolutely necessary for those who would love Christ. I wonder, then, if it would be considered as necessary for salvation by the Church then, if you never received because of fear of being sick? (inasmuch as COVID will likely not suddenly disappear. If I use the same logic to not receive once churches reopen as I do now, am I saved?)

This is how I felt about it before, I just feel jilted I suppose. I was very much looking forward to the consolation of baptism this Easter, and now feel unsure of what to do spiritually, since we don’t know when that blessing will be returning to us. Given that it is a race, I would gladly race to any baptismal font were it available for the sake of my soul. Yet that saving sacrament has been considered non-essential, hence my present questions.

Once again, I appreciate your answering my questions seriously.

Pax in Christo

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