COVID-19, beards, attending church

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The above chart is actually from 2017 and gives advice about respirators in general. It wasn’t generated in response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). How long the virus is able to survive on surfaces (for days or weeks) or in aerosol form (hanging in the air from breathing for minutes or hours traveling in the breeze) is all unknown.

There are scare-tactics used by some on the one side, and the near hysterical smashing down of scare-tactics used by some on the other side. Scare people and it spreads faster as people run. But don’t tell the truth of virility of the virus and people are not careful to take precautions as simple as washing your hands on the other hand.

My own beard and gas mask story. From about the end of June 1989 until about the beginning of February 1990 I was living at the Pontifical Biblical Institute across from the King David Hotel a stone’s throw from the ancient walled city of Jerusalem. Saddam Hussein was lobbing scud missiles at Israel that contained – he said – biological weapons of mass extermination. We were all issued gas masks to avoid breathing in aerosol laden poisons or biological horrors.

I liked having a beard mostly because I was too lazy to shave every day. We were told to tape up our windows to avoid glass shattering from exploding missiles, so I did that. Likewise, we were told to tape up cracks between the doors and the walls of our little rooms, so I did that. We were all ready, with rolls of tape at the ready, to tape up the opening between the door and the door frame the moment a scud missile exploded nearby. The missiles were dropping all over Israel. We had a room that was especially well-sealed and stocked with food and water into which we could seal ourselves for a day or two if need be, if we had the chance to get there before some of the more nervous members of the Biblicum community locked late-comers out of the room much like submariners caught in a leaking chamber are sealed off from escape by their friends so as to save the rest of the crew members in the rest of the submarine.

Al-Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount is Islam’s third most holiest site in the world. We were very close to that, and stupid me, I was trusting in warfare technology of 1990, and, stupid me, I was thinking that Saddam wouldn’t dare throw missiles that would drop around those living near the Temple Mount. I thought that until a scud missile exploded between the Biblical Institute and the King David Hotel, near enough to shake a car outside my window, setting off its alarm, but the tape on my window held.

So I tried to shave my beard, only half successfully, but not good enough for a seal to be made between the gas mask and my mug of a face before the rest of the community were yelling at me to get into their special room.

Now, that’s a different set of circumstances, right? Well, that’s controversial. Those in danger areas are wearing total-seal hazmat gear from head to toe, looking like aliens in space suits. Why oh why would they do that, I wonder. Why would the CDC make a statement against all previous policy for all other viruses and say that the spread of COVID-19 in these USA is inevitable? It’s not the beard chart that surprises me, but the “inevitable” statement.

The Italian government has been cracking down on meetings of people, you know, in churches. Hardly any Ash Wednesday Masses in Italy at the beginning of this Lent. Scare tactics that are political in nature, as there is no crack down on going to stadiums or supermarkets.

Meanwhile, with great malice, the Demoncrats have been playing up scare tactics as a way, they think, to hurt any re-election of Donald Trump. That’s a fright, because scare tactics only encourage faster spread of the virus.

Having said all that, I should also be the priest and say what I always say, people should have their souls in order. Our Lord can call us at any time. Confession! For myself, I’ll go to Confession again later today if I can as the Smokey Mountain Vicariate of the Diocese is meeting up down the road.

If the CDC’s out-of-character statement about “inevitability” comes into play, this priest will be at particular risk:

  • I’ll attend to the sick and dying with the last rites as long as I’m not forbidden by hospital staff. That would be tough for them since the kind of volunteer level that I enjoy is actually at the level of employee status for our local hospital.
  • I’ll still accompany our local law enforcement as Police Chaplain. I can only imagine that unstable people will cause trouble with increased home invasions if the inevitability thing closes down supermarkets. It would get a bit chaotic. Can you imagine being on corpse-removal-detail? Blech. I hope any respirators have odor controls.

Having said all that, I have not shaved my beard. Life goes on. I do what I always do. Take note of a recent development – as reported some hours ago – that there may be a way around a year and half wait for a vaccine. It was said that there may be a way to fight this with an anti-viral found to have great success in animals and which may be able to be used forthwith. Maybe. But – hey! – maybe!

Here’s the deal: We’re no longer meant for this world. Our home is to be in heaven. We’re in exile here. Worst case scenario with COVID-19 may be a ticket to heaven. Not bad, that.

But what about Church attendance here in the USA? Yesterday, a reporter asked POTUS Trump a question about any contingency plans for locking down cities. He said that those are in place and being refined. Lock downs enforced by Martial Law can happen overnight. That includes shoot-to-kill curfews. I must say, I’ve never in my life heard talk of such things in public in these USA. I’m NOT indulging in scare tactics. Don’t be mad at me. I’m just noting was the CDC has been doing, and what the advised policies are regarding mentioning any of this kind of thing in public. Keep your eyes and ears open.

Now, after all that chaos, I have a question:

Should I shave my beard?

11 Comments

Filed under Law enforcement, Medicine, Missionaries of Mercy

11 responses to “COVID-19, beards, attending church

  1. Catherine

    The big question: to shave or not to shave. Another question: what would Jesus do? In the Passion narratives of The Holy Face of Jesus, He had to endure his beard being pulled out. He knew what he was expected to endure but didn’t shave. What does it all mean? Since it is a time of Lent, perhaps you are meant to decide if this decision, either way, can be used as a spiritual intention. Just a thought. God bless you Father George!

  2. Janine

    No Father, please dont! just get some thieves oil and use a few drops of that on a cotton ball mixed with say olive oil or almond oil (5:1 olive oil/thieves oil)as a carrier and put that in your beard. If it kept some thieves from catching small pox a long time ago maybe it will help this too.

  3. Nan

    Keep your beard. God loves you.

    • Father George David Byers

      You say that because priests in the East must have beards! But I love the God loves you part.

  4. Go by what God tells you. He most likely favors keeping the beard. Only the Holy Ghost is pictured without a beard. God bless and keep you, Father

  5. Jim Anderson

    Shaving your beard might extend the time that you could shepherd your flock.

  6. meshugunah

    Your face, your beard, your decision. Personally, I like they way you look with the beard – both my husband and my son have beards (and at my advancing age, I’ve got traces of one myself!) IMO, this whole thing with Covid-19 will turn out to be rather a tempest in a teapot, used for political purposes. That said, am still praying for the repose of the souls of the deceased, healing for the ill, and conversion for the Chinese Communists, etc.

  7. nancyv

    Well, since you are an “ol man” now, shaving might make you look younger and , AND with your weight loss, you could shave and show up some place incognito. I am just having fun.
    But thanks for the other warning possibilities re this flu outbreak.

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