Within the last 24 hours, I’ve spoken to two men who run large Catholic parishes in my diocese and they both said the same thing: “I don’t know how we’ll survive this.”

They were talking about something more than the coronavirus pandemic, as nerve-wracking as that can be.

They were talking, more specifically, about something no one really wants to bring up at a time like this: money.

How are their parishes going to make ends meet if they have to go for weeks, or even months, without taking up a collection? There are bills to be paid — light, gas, heat — plus payrolls to be met and insurance bills to be paid. A lot of parishes are just squeaking by, and many look forward to generous donations during Easter. Those won’t be coming this year.

So I want to offer one simple suggestion for every Catholic who cares about his or her parish and wants to support it during these trying times:

Start giving online. Now. 

If you haven’t done it already: investigate online giving for your parish. It’s easy to set up, usually by having a monthly donation charged to a credit card. (Hey, you could earn airline points!) Some programs will automatically deduct it from your savings or checking account. I’ve been doing this for years. It’s safe and secure and gives you one less thing to have to worry about every week.

If you are able, and if your parish offers it, do this. Today.

Honestly: Chances are ,you may not find yourself in church facing a collection basket again for many weeks — maybe not until May or June. Imagine going that long without a paycheck. Imagine the paid staff being impacted: the parish secretary, the DRE, the music director, the various people who make the parish run.

It’s one way to help keep the lights on, and assure that the parish continues once this crisis is passed.

“I don’t know how we’ll survive this” is a refrain I suspect is being uttered in countless parishes around the country this week. Please consider taking this small step to show the priests you love that you want to be there for them, in gratitude for all the times they have been there for you.

Then, whisper a prayer that this cloud over our world will soon be lifted so that life, as we know it, can resume.