Respectful dissent

Veronica Novotny

Assistant Editor

Recently I have heard so many fellow students complain about “the regulations.” You already know what they are, and the biggest complaint pertains to masks.

Clearly Fr. Dave has heard the complaints, too, because he asked all the friars to make an announcement after Sunday masses, Feb. 21, reminding the congregation that yes, it is still university policy to wear a mask in most indoor situations.

And yet, the chapel, fieldhouse, Port and classrooms are still full of unmasked individuals.

Now, I know that people have strong reasons to oppose mask-wearing. Some people I’ve talked to find them to be an inconvenience, others are confused about lax enforcement and still more protest the overreach of government power manifested in mask mandates.

In many ways, I agree that masks seem useless and silly. How useful is it to put a mask over our nose and mouth while walking into the J.C. and tear it off as soon as we find a table for our six closest friends? It doesn’t necessarily make sense.

But there seems to be some evidence that consistent mask-wearing could be useful, which is why it became a widespread mandate in the first place.

There is so much we don’t really know about the virus, and even experts give us different “facts.” I spent an hour in a professor’s office recently discussing the ethics, morality and political precedent for all of this. I left more puzzled than when I walked in and I still don’t know what the right answer is.

This is what I know for sure: I am so, so glad to be here. Most of us can agree that we’re happy to have class in-person rather than online, campus life rather than living at home year-round (as great as home is), with household life and sports practices and club meetings.

Here’s the thing. We are justified in finding issues with regulations, but I don’t think we can disobey school policy –– appropriately enacted school policy –– without a very good reason. Disobedience based off of ideologies surrounding a piece of fabric is petty.

Those within administration really care about our wellbeing –– physical, emotional, mental and spiritual. They have worked hard for months to keep us here and keep us safe. They deserve our respect.

By all means, write to Fr. Dave and his administration to communicate your frustration, concerns and arguments. But please don’t disrespect both diocesan and university policies by blatantly attending Mass in Christ the King without a mask when we’re already breaking the signified pew capacity.

To those of you who feel burnt and disregarded by the people on this campus who don’t care about the regulations: I’m sorry. Some of you have lost family to COVID-19, some of you have issues with anxiety and some of you are taking this way more seriously than most of the people I see walking around the J.C. with masks barely covering their mouths (myself included, sometimes).

I’m not really sure why I’m writing this editorial. There’s so much that could be said, but so many are already shouting on every blog and social media page out there.

But I do want to see my classmates step up to the call to holiness and accept this small inconvenience for the sake of obedience.

I want to leave you with this quote from one of Padre Pio’s letters to a woman who had written to him about her problems. His response has stuck with me in the five years since I first read it, back when life felt so much simpler, before I knew that there was so much ideological dissent even among Catholic circles.

Padre Pio writes, “I truly feel my heart bursting from my breast on hearing of your suffering. What wouldn’t I do to see you relieved of it. But why are you so anxious? Why are you so restless? Come on, my dear daughter, I have never seen Jesus grant you so many jewels as he does now. I have never seen you so dear to Jesus as you are now.”

“So why do you tremble and fear? Your fear and trembling is similar to that of a child in the arms of its mother. So your fear is useless and silly.”

We are never more dear to our Lord than when our suffering brings us closer to him. Our fear is useless and silly, our disagreements are useless and silly, our complaints about masks are so silly. We are already being held in the arms of our mother, the Church, and our administration has proved willing to listen to us.

If you disagree with the policies, take the university seriously enough to follow the rules that are in place and wear the mask, and then respectfully express your dissent. I promise that the university administrators will take your concerns seriously when you take them seriously enough to act like the adults that you are.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *