It’s been about two months since our family has been able to attend public Mass at our parish.
While I am thankful that we were able to “attend” many virtual Masses during these quarantine weeks, I must say that I am not necessarily sad to see this whole virtual Mass go. Virtual Mass with two toddlers was challenging and eventful. While we tried our best to get the boys in the mindset of Mass, it was still difficult to get them to participate, behave, and listen. So I guess what I’m saying is that it was really no different from our life in the Cry-Room at our parish! LOL.
I must say that our family’s attempts at virtual Mass were not totally futile. Many blessings came out of this venture. For instance, we are thankful that we had access to the technology that enabled us to receive the Word of God, Spiritual Communion, and Homilies. For the first time in my life, I finally understood the magnitude of using technology for good (vs evil). I’m so thankful to have had modern technology during a time like this because it allowed us to have access to “community” in time when that was taken away from us.
Another blessing was the numerous kid-friendly Catholic resources we found along the way. When it was time for Holy Week, many resources from here helped us connect the meaning of the Triduum and Holy Week to our sons. It made Mass fun for them.
I would have to say that the final blessing was that we learned the virtue of patience. We live in an “On Demand” culture – we have become accustomed to having access to anything we could possibly want within seconds, minutes, or hours. We hardly have to wait for anything anymore. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it can be damaging when it causes a lack of patience in other areas of one’s life.
So we had to be learn to be patient…with ourselves, with society, and with our faith community. We had to surrender our will, our wishes, and our schedules. When you attend weekly or daily Mass, you can almost start to take Communion for granted. You can start to feel entitled in your faith. Being away from public Mass has been difficult for me but it has shifted my perspective of the Sacraments, particularly the Eucharist.
Our parish resumed public Mass this week and my husband and I were able to attend public Mass together for the first time in about two months.
Our parish has new rules and regulations that are in place to allow our parish family to safely celebrate public Mass again. It was our personal decision not to take our two sons to Mass this week with us. Many things made this decision obvious for us but the most important thing was for us to experience and get a feel of what Mass will look like for now. We both strongly felt that it would be different enough for us and to bring toddlers in the mix could be very stressful, shocking, and difficult (for everyone). That was our personal decision, it doesn’t mean it has to be yours.
It was nerve-wracking and interesting to see how our parish is handling a socially distanced Mass. However, it was also so very beautiful and humbling to be able to be finally fully receive Christ again.
I can’t for certain say that your parish or diocese will be exactly like ours but here’s a few things that are notably different:
- Hand sanitizer. Instead of getting holy water when walking into church, be prepared to apply all the hand sanitizer.
- Green tape. Our parish marked off every other pew with green painter’s tape. This is an effort to space families out throughout the church. I’m not sure how other parishes are handling this but we also couldn’t use the kneelers during Mass.
- Masks. All of the parishioners, lectors, and clergy had masks on. Masks were actually a requirement to entering the church, and we happily complied.
- Missalettes. Our parish removed all the missalettes and bulletins for now. I’m glad I have my Every Sacred Sunday to follow along with the readings and jot down my takeaways from the Homily.
- No “peace be with you” to fellow parishioners at this time.
This will certainly be a challenging transitional time for all houses of worship. It will take time, trial and error, patience, and a whole lotta grace for everyone to get through this. However, I find peace and solidarity in knowing that, no matter what denomination you are, our religious leaders are all trying to discern the best way to safely resume public worship – so we truly are all in this together.
I will leave you with this thought that I’ve had to tell myself many times during these past couple of months: “you have access to Christ. You have access to the Word. You aren’t entitled to receive Communion. There are many people now and many people that have come before you that hardly have or had access to any of these things…yet their faith remained.”