Business as usual, well, except for Mass -- Confession schedule in place, including next Wednesday night, 6:30 pm to 8 pm.  Adoration continues.  Church open usual hours (see sidebar).  Only private Masses, "sine populo" -- without people. Say your prayers.  This, too, will pass. (I blame Red China and that bioweapons center in Wuhan.)

Email scammers are active again -- Folks, do not respond to any request for funds from me by email.  Scammers repeatedly invent email addresses and send you messages to send money (or gift cards).   Just report to the Parish office and we'll report to law enforcement.

Pastor's thoughts on the pandemic:



We are finally receiving reliable information from competent authorities.  Please, God.  No more hysteria:  Very good video on the virus: Folks, I received this video from a doctor friend who recently traveled to NYC to assist with fighting the contagion. The video was recorded by Dr. David Price, pulmonologist/intensivist at Weil Cornell Hospital in NYC, where they are taking care of many sick COVID19 patients. The video, done by a frontline healthcare provider, was not only informative but provided common sense (with great sensitivity) to help lay down much fear/anxiety about the disease. It is good to watch! The basic message: Keep hands purified and don't touch your face! https://vimeo.com/399733860

A Vatican Jesuit perspective:  Never heard of this guy, but even within his own conspectus he seems to credit the ecosystem with remarkable powers of recuperation -- three centuries of anthropogenic global warming reversed by six weeks of watching re-runs of The Mary Tyler Moore Show: https://www.vaticannews.va/en/world/news/2020-03/coronavirus-earths-unlikely-ally.html

From Father Scalia, the Episcopal Vicar for the Clergy:  "Please keep in your prayers Father Alex Drummond, who has been diagnosed with lung cancer. Please pray for him as over the next few weeks he undergoes more tests and begins treatment.


"Renewal of Ordination Promises during the Chrism Mass on Holy Thursday:

On the day of my ordination, the ordaining Bishop John Richard Keating, according to the solemn Ordination Rite, asked me:

"Do you promise me and my successors respect and obedience?"

I responded:

"I promise."

Folks, it is my duty (along with the other priests of the Diocese) to celebrate Mass sine populo, that is, without people for the duration of this pandemic.  I will cheerfully comply and accept these lawful directives as the express will of God.  Please join me in praying for Bishop Burbidge who carries the dread responsibility to make these historically unprecedented decisions before God.

With the manifestation of God's will, let us ponder how we so often neglected Mass, and at times so easily missed Mass for insufficient reasons.  I will receive Him, Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity when I celebrate Mass not only for my sanctification but on your behalf.  Let us pray for one another. 


Here's an interesting site:  Petition to restore the celebration of the Mass:  Holy Mass + 6 feet distance + hand washing + pew sanitizing = Good for the Body and Good for the Soul



Live-streamed Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation - Available for viewing

Did you miss the live-stream of the Mass for the Feast of the Annunciation? Click HERE to view the archived video.


Cardinal Burke on the Mass and the troubles: 



On Sunday morning, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed (8 am to Noon), and a Spiritual Communion Guide will be available. Feel free to take it home for private prayer. Again, please maintain a reasonable personal distance, and don’t forget those disinfectant wipes.

Starting this Wednesday at 12:05 pm, Bishop Burbidge will celebrate occasional private Masses at the St. Thomas More Cathedral rectory chapel via live stream. To see that live stream, follow the Cathedral Facebook page.

Family Rosary Novena -- We are encouraging all parishioners to join in a 54-day Rosary novena starting this Saturday, March 21st to end on the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13th. We are praying for a quick end to this pandemic and the accompanying hysteria.

We will maintain the Parish Confession schedule.

Bp. Schneider declared that 'the entire human race' has become 'a kind of prisoner of a world 'sanitary dictatorship.'' Here is how he recommends the faithful proceed.

By Bishop Athanasius Schneider

Millions of Catholics in the so-called free Western world will, in the coming weeks or even months, and especially during Holy Week and Easter, the culmination of the entire liturgical year, be deprived of any public acts of worship due to both civic and ecclesiastical reaction to the outbreak of Coronavirus (COVID-19). The most painful and distressing of these is the deprivation of Holy Mass and sacramental Holy Communion.

The current atmosphere of an almost planetary panic is continuously fueled by the universally proclaimed “dogma” of the new coronavirus pandemic. The drastic and disproportionate security measures with the denial of fundamental human rights of freedom of movement, freedom of assembly, and freedom of opinion appear almost globally orchestrated along a precise plan. Thus, the entire human race becomes a kind of prisoner of a world “sanitary dictatorship,” which for its part also reveals itself as a political dictatorship.

An important side-effect of this new “sanitary dictatorship” that is spreading throughout the world is the growing and uncompromising ban on all forms of public worship. Beginning on March 16, 2020, the German government issued a ban on all forms of public religious gatherings for all religions. Such a drastic measure of strict prohibition of all forms of public worship was unimaginable even during the Third Reich.

Before these measures were taken in Germany, a governmentally ordered prohibition of any public worship was implemented in Italy and Rome, the heart of Catholicism and of Christianity. The current situation of the prohibition of public worship in Rome brings the Church back to the time of an analogous prohibition issued by the pagan Roman emperors in the first centuries.

Clerics who dare to celebrate Holy Mass in the presence of the faithful in such circumstances could be punished or put in prison. The world “sanitary dictatorship” has created a situation which breathes the air of the catacombs, of a persecuted Church, of an underground Church, especially in Rome. Pope Francis, who on March 15, with lonely and halting steps, walked through the deserted streets of Rome on his pilgrimage from the image of the “Salus populi Romani” in the church of Santa Maria Maggiore to the Miraculous Cross in the church of San Marcello, conveyed an apocalyptic image. It was reminiscent of the following description of the third part of the secret of Fatima (revealed on 13 July 1917): “The Holy Father passed through a big city half in ruins and half trembling with halting step, afflicted with pain and sorrow.”

How should Catholics react and behave in such a situation? We have to accept this situation from the hands of Divine Providence as a trial, which will bring us a greater spiritual benefit than if we had not experienced such a situation. One can understand this situation as a divine intervention in the current unprecedented crisis of the Church. God uses now the merciless world “sanitary dictatorship” to purify the Church, to awaken the responsible in the Church, and in first place the pope and the episcopate, from the illusion of a nice modern world, from the temptation to flirt with the world, from the immersion in temporal and earthly things. The powers of this world have now forcibly separated the faithful from their shepherds. The clergy is ordered by governments to celebrate liturgy without the people.

This current purifying divine intervention has the power to show all of us what is truly essential in the Church: the Eucharistic sacrifice of Christ with His Body and Blood and the eternal salvation of immortal souls. May those in the Church who are unexpectedly and suddenly deprived of what is central start to see and appreciate its value more deeply.

In spite of the painful situation of being deprived of Holy Mass and Holy Communion, Catholics should not yield to frustration or melancholy. They should accept this trial as an occasion of abundant graces, which Divine Providence has prepared for them. Many Catholics have now in some way the chance to experience the situation of the catacombs, of the underground Church. One can hope that such a situation will produce the new spiritual fruits of confessors of faith and of holiness.

This situation forces Catholic families to experience literally the meaning of a domestic church. In the absence of the possibility to assist at Holy Mass even on Sundays, Catholic parents should gather their families in their homes. They could assist in their homes at a Holy Mass broadcast on television or the internet, or if this is not possible, they should dedicate a holy hour of prayers to sanctify the Day of the Lord and to unite themselves spiritually with the Holy Masses celebrated by priests behind closed doors even in their towns or in their vicinity. Such a Sunday holy hour of a domestic church could be done for instance in a following way:

Prayer of the rosary, reading of the Sunday Gospel, Act of Contrition, act of Spiritual Communion, Litany, prayer for all who suffer and die, for all who are persecuted, prayer for the pope and the priests, prayer for the end of the current physical and spiritual epidemic. The Catholic family should also pray the Stations of the Cross on Fridays of Lent. Furthermore, on Sundays, parents could gather their children in the afternoon or in the evening to read to them from the Lives of the Saints, especially those stories drawn from times of persecution of the Church. I had the privilege to have lived such an experience in my childhood, and that gave me the foundation of the Catholic faith for my entire life.

Catholics who are now deprived of assisting at Holy Mass and receiving sacramentally Holy Communion, perhaps only for a short time of some weeks or months, may think about these times of persecution, where faithful for years couldn’t assist at Holy Mass and receive other sacraments, as was the case, for instance, during the communist persecution in many places of the Soviet Empire.

Let the following words of God strengthen all Catholics who are currently suffering from being deprived of the Holy Mass and Holy Communion:

“Do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4: 12–13)

“The Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.” (2 Cor. 1:3–4)

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perishes, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6–7).

In the time of a cruel persecution of the Church, St. Cyprian of Carthage (+258) gave the following edifying teaching on the value of patience:

“It is patience which firmly fortifies the foundations of our faith. It is this which lifts up on high the increase of our hope. It is this which directs our doing, that we may hold fast the way of Christ while we walk by His patience. How great is the Lord Jesus, and how great is His patience, that He who is adored in heaven is not yet avenged on earth! Let us, beloved brethren, consider His patience in our persecutions and sufferings; let us give an obedience full of expectation to His advent” (De patientia, 20; 24)

We want to pray with all our trust to the Mother of the Church, invoking the intercessory power of Her Immaculate Heart, that the current situation of being deprived of Holy Mass may bring abundant spiritual fruits for the true renewal of the Church after decades of the night of the persecution of true Catholics, clergy, and faithful that has happened inside the Church. Let us hear the following inspiring words of St. Cyprian:

“If the cause of disaster is recognized, there is at once found a remedy for the wound. The Lord has desired His family to be proved; and because a long peace had corrupted the discipline that had been divinely delivered to us, the heavenly rebuke has aroused our faith, which was giving way, and I had almost said slumbering; and although we deserved more for our sins, yet the most merciful Lord has so moderated all things, that all which has happened has rather seemed a trial than a persecution.” (De lapsis, 5)

God grant that this short trial of the deprivation of public worship and Holy Mass instill in the heart of the pope and the bishops a new apostolic zeal for the perennial spiritual treasures, which were divinely entrusted to them — i.e., the zeal for the glory and honor of God, for the uniqueness of Jesus Christ and His redeeming sacrifice, for the centrality of the Eucharist and its sacred and sublime manner of celebration, for the greatest glory of the Eucharistic Body of Christ, the zeal for the salvation of the immortal souls, for a chaste and apostolic-minded clergy. May we listen to the following encouraging words of St. Cyprian:

“Praises must be given to God, and His benefits and gifts must be celebrated with giving of thanks, although even in the time of persecution our voice has not ceased to give thanks. For not even an enemy has so much power as to prevent us, who love the Lord with our whole heart, and life, and strength, from declaring His blessings and praises always and everywhere with glory. The day earnestly desired, by the prayers of all has come; and after the dreadful and loathsome darkness of a long night, the world has shone forth irradiated by the light of the Lord.” (De lapsis, 1) March 19, 2020 + Athanasius Schneider, auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Saint Mary in Astana 

The role of humor during a time of crisis. Lincoln would probably approve of this joke: "Apart from that, Mrs. Lincoln, how did you enjoy the play?"


Excerpts: Laugh During Wartime -- Americans remember the Civil War for the carnage it caused, the people it liberated and the nation it rebuilt. Rarely do they remember it for the comedy it inspired.

The United States already had an international reputation as a land of iconoclastic tricksters, and the fighting sharpened their wits even further. Girls larded letters to their enlisted sweethearts with the latest jokes told back home, and nurses slipped books by their favorite humorists under the pillows of recuperating soldiers. Though many joked, veterans led the way. The Army, some humorless civilians warned, is “deficient in reverence, and likes a laugh at anybody’s expense.”

Confederates soon debuted their own style of an aggressively macabre humor. When the Union called for 75,000 volunteers, rebel jokers published advertisements for “75,000 Coffins Wanted.”

Abraham Lincoln became the war’s most notorious jester, known for his backcountry yarns and goofy, self-deprecating style. Washington socialites complained that he simply would not stop telling jokes at their dinner parties.

…when a businessman requested a pass through Union lines to Richmond, Lincoln chuckled that he had already sent 250,000 men in that direction, but “not one has got there yet.”

Some Union soldiers, crushed by devastating defeat after devastating defeat, moaned that their comrades “are handed over to be butchered” while “Old Abe makes a joke.” Even the president’s supporters began to fret about Lincoln’s “unfortunate habit of joking” at “the very crisis of our existence.”

By 1863 even the New York Herald, formerly a sarcastic paper in a sarcastic city, turned its back on humor, demanding, “Was Bull Run a joke? Was Fredericksburg a joke? Was Chancellorsville a joke? Does anyone laugh at the wholesale slaughter of brave men?”

[But] as the war grew bloodier, American men and women actually increased the audacity of their comedy. Those who kept joking tacitly argued that bold, comedic truth-telling was exactly what their nation needed.

Some [Confederate and Union soldiers] wondered how many court-martials a barrel of rum held. Others joked that draft exemptions were only open to “dead men who can establish proof of their demise by two reliable witnesses.”

But the slaughter at Chancellorsville and Gettysburg introduced a new darkness. Soon, noted one wartime memoirist, “anything short of death is a capital joke.” Many gags starred a battlefield surgeon – “Old Sawbones” – who could amputate a gangrenous leg without removing the cigar from his mouth.

Arp, the Confederacy’s most talented comedian, responded with a hilarious series in which he bragged about chasing Sherman’s “fleeing” army to the sea. Arp’s fictitious wife was just as myopic, hoping that the “kind-hearted” Sherman would take good care of the things his men pillaged from her home.

This all may sound callous to modern sensibilities, but there is an impressive honesty to it: the comedy of the Civil War preferred to directly engage suffering rather than hide behind stern reverence. While humor could not stop the onslaught of grand and terrible events, at least it helped Americans talk about them.

Weighed down by the “fearful strain that is upon me night and day,” Abraham Lincoln quipped, “if I did not laugh I should die.”

Follow Disunion at twitter.com/NYTcivilwar or join us on Facebook.

Jon Grinspan is a Ph.D. candidate in history at the University of Virginia. His full study of Civil War Comedy was recently published in the Journal of the Civil War Era.

There was a time when trust in God’s Providence was part of the cultural fabric of America. Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson wrote (with a hint of Calvinistic theology), “[M]y religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then all would be equally brave.” It’s usually more reasonable to hide behind a stone wall when bullets fly, rather than stand like a stone wall. But not if one hopes to win the battle. Our battle is for eternal life which forever will take the way of the Cross. Trust in Divine Providence.  But keep using those hand wipes, etc.  And older folks with health conditions should certainly stay put (don't come to Mass) until this thing blows over. 

The upcoming days will be beautiful and warm. Why not use the church grounds for a picnic, and stop in the church and say hello? Be sure to bring those hand wipes, and keep the necessary distance (you know better than I). (By now, I'm sure that's second nature.)  Vitamin D from the sun is said to inhibit viruses -- torso I read.

The directives of the Bishop:  The bishops of every diocese have their directives concerning the cancellation of public Masses, with the expectation that they will be observed. In Arlington, the Bishop does not permit the public celebration of Mass. Due to the suspension of public Masses, the Bishop has dispensed all the faithful in the Diocese of Arlington from their Sunday obligation. Especially on Sundays and holy days, the Bishop encourages the faithful to devote time to prayer, observe Mass on television or the internet, and pray the Rosary along with other devotions. The Bishop has directed the priests to celebrate funeral and wedding Masses with immediate family only. The Bishop disapproves of any “drive-by” (in automobiles) distribution of Communion. The Bishop permits exposition of the Blessed Sacrament for adoration by small numbers of parishioners. When people are present during the celebration of a priest’s private Mass, if they approach to receive Communion, the priest is free to distribute Communion.  

Applied practices at Saint Catherine of Siena:  When people come to church at any time, they should arrive with a pocketful of sanitary hand wipes. (Because of unconscionable hoarding in the stores, the church is unable to maintain a sufficient supply.) If a person stumbles upon the celebration of a private Mass, when approaching Communion, communicants should spread out, allowing sufficient space between one another. Conversation in groups in the narthex is prohibited, and the Pastor will disperse the crowds. Periodically, we will swab down contact areas with disinfectant. At some point, as usual, there will be a private Mass on Sunday.  

On Sunday morning, the Blessed Sacrament will be exposed, and a Spiritual Communion Guide will be available. Feel free to take it home for private prayer. Again, please maintain a reasonable personal distance, and don’t forget those disinfectant wipes.

From Pope John Paul II, referring to the faith of the people and their life under the Communists:  "..sometimes it happens that [people] meet in an abandoned shrine, and place on the altar a stole which they still keep, and recite all the prayers of the Eucharistic liturgy; and then, at the moment that corresponds to the transubstantiation a deep silence comes down upon them, a silence sometimes broken by a sob… so ardently do they desire to hear the words that only the lips of a Priest can efficaciously utter. So much do they desire Eucharistic Communion, in which they can share only through the ministry of a priest..." http://www.vatican.va/content/john-paul-ii/en/letters/1979/documents/hf_jp-ii_let_19790409_sacerdoti-giovedi-santo.html

Suggestion:  Perhaps use the Missalettes to re-present the daily Mass in prayer.  Make daily spiritual Communions as we wait for an end to the troubles.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Bishop Burbidge has decreed under obedience that all public Masses cease due to the Chinese coronavirusd-19 pandemic

The Pastor will continue to offer Masses in private

The church will remain open as usual

Adoration will continue as usual (Wednesdays and First Fridays)

Funerals and weddings will be celebrated with the immediate family only

All Parish group meetings -- KOC, Over 50 Group, etc. -- are canceled.

The Bishop is convinced of the urgency of the problem based on CDC guidelines

Decisions about Holy Week and Easter have been deferred

Confessions will continue to be heard on schedule

Be attentive to the new configuration for Confessions 

No public Stations of the Cross, although we encourage individuals to do so

No visitation of the homebound, unless in danger of death

Mass on TV https://www.arlingtondiocese.org/tvmass/

Direct all questions to the Diocesan Director of Communications, Billy Atwell: 703.841.2500


Updated: March 16, 2020 


Original Posted: March 11, 2020

Catholic Diocese of Arlington Prevention and Response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19)

 The Catholic Diocese of Arlington has been in consultation with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and is actively coordinating with county public health departments to ensure that all diocesan parishes, schools, ministries, and charities are responding appropriately to the spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19). 

With active cases of coronavirus present in Maryland, Washington D.C. and Virginia, the Diocese is taking additional precautions to protect the health and safety of those who serve in or are served by the diocese, as well as the broader public, all in an abundance of caution. 

Parish Response:

 On March 16, Bishop Burbidge announced via a video message that until further notice, all public celebrations of the Mass are canceled throughout the Diocese.

Bishop Burbidge has asked pastors to keep churches open to the public, so that those who choose to pray, are welcome to do so in the presence of our Eucharistic Lord, while keeping a safe distance from one another and not exceeding the 10-person limit. 

 With public celebrations of the Sunday Mass canceled, the faithful are encouraged to devote time to prayer, observe Mass on television or the internet, and pray the Rosary along with other devotions.

 The Diocese co-sponsors a televised Sunday Mass with the Archdiocese of Washington. It takes place at the Basilica Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington and is available at 10:30am on Sundays on two local TV stations as well as online. Go to ArlingtonDiocese.org/TVMass for more information or to view the Mass.

Diocesan Catholic School Response:

 Diocesan Catholic schools have canceled all school-sponsored international travel through June 30, 2020. All domestic overnight travel from March 11 through May 1, 2020, is canceled.

With regard to school closures, schools are following Governor Ralph Northams's directive to close for the following two weeks. Those closures are in effect through Friday, March 27. Some counties have announced closures that extend beyond the Governor's mandate, and our schools will follow the dates of closure in the jurisdiction they normally follow for weather related closures.  

On Monday, March 16, all Diocesan Catholic Schools had a pre-planned closure for teacher in-service training. Educators used that day to further ensure their readiness to shift into an e-learning environment with students.

Catholic Charities:

 Catholic Charities is actively coordinating with each of its 20 programs and 16 stand-alone locations to ensure that critical services to the poor and vulnerable are delivered consistent with guidelines and best practices prescribed by the CDC relating to the coronavirus. Volunteers and clients should consult with the Catholic Charities website for program updates and when-to-stay-home guidance.

Preventative Measures:

 All expert opinion highlights the critical need to wash hands regularly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible; and covering your mouth with a tissue or sleeve (not your hands) when sneezing or coughing.

 Diocese of Arlington leadership is coordinating actively with public health officials. We are monitoring the situation on a daily basis and will take additional measures as circumstances change.  

Perspective -- In the U.S., approximately 862,320 abortions were performed in 2017. With this pandemic, we're starting to feel as nervous as an unborn baby at a Planned Parenthood clinic. https://www.guttmacher.org/fact-sheet/induced-abortion-united-states








Sacramental Schedule

The Church typically opens by 7:30 a.m. and closes around 7 p.m.  But times may vary because of variations in the Pastor's schedule and the occasional inability to obtain help in locking the church at night.

The Confession Schedule continues

Sacrament of Penance:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 7:45 am – 8:15 am
Saturday afternoon: 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm
Expanded schedule for Advent and Lent
All Day Eucharistic Adoration
Every Wednesday: 1 pm through Thursday morning, 8:30 am
Every First Friday: 9 am through Saturday morning, 8:30 am


Mass Schedule:  Public Masses temporarily suspended

8 am 10 am 12 Noon*
*Novus Ordo Latin Mass

Saturday: 8:30 am & 5:30 pm Vigil Mass

Weekdays: 8:30 am, (Wednesdays: 12:15 pm)

Holydays (except Christmas):
8:30 am & 7 pm

Contact Us

Rev. Jerry J. Pokorsky
Direct Line to Pastor 703.759.3520
No text messages please; contact the office for administrative questions.

Office Hours
Monday - Friday: 9:30 am to 1:30 pm 
Closed on Federal Holidays

Saint Catherine of Siena Church
1020 Springvale Road
Great Falls, VA 22066
Have a question? Have a comment? Please contact us!
Phone: 703.759.4350
Fax: 703.759.3753





St. Catherine of Siena Catholic Church

1020 Springvale Rd., Great Falls, VA 22066

Parish Office: 703.759.4350
Fax: 703.759.3753
Religious Education: 703.759.3530
Siena Academy: 703.759.4129