While the bishop has still dispensed the obligation for Catholics to attend Mass there are still restrictions in place. These are the same restrictions that already govern our lives in public and in public places. Church buildings are public places. Why should we be reminded of this? Allow me to put things in perspective.
1. If this church was not built to code, we would not be permitted to be inside it.
2. If this church did not have a fully functioning sprinkler system, we would not be permitted to be inside it.
3. If this church did not have clearly visible emergency exit signs, we would not be permitted to be inside it.
4. Look around any publicly used building. It must always be up to code as expected by the civil authorities who are public servants charged with the responsibility for the common good, the safety and the health of our local community. For this, we must always be grateful.
When we completed building our beautiful church, I received the necessary legal occupancy permit allowing the public to enter. However, I decided that no one would set foot inside for a further month until the bishop opened the doors himself and led us through himself and blessed it from the inside out. Gathered around the altar for the first time, as our chief shepherd, he reminded us of the Scriptural prayers we used dedicating this house of worship to God. He reiterated that when we gather together to worship, we become the “living stones” that make up the Church, with Christ as the cornerstone.
As “living stones” we are also breathing stones. Some are strong and healthy while others are weak and vulnerable. We depend on Christ but we must support each other to build up this church of living, breathing, strong and fragile stones that we are. We too are public servants.
To that end, if you enter through the doors of a public house of worship that has been opened for you because it is deemed to be “up to code”, then all of us, as “living stones”, are also being asked by our bishop to be likewise, body and soul, “up to code” for the common good of the whole Body of Christ of which we are members.
If entering the church, prepare yourself both physically and spiritually. Be physically healthy and spiritually mature.
1. Do so with the necessary mouth covering required and if you speak, do so at all times with civility and humility.
2. Maintain the expected social distance and trust that, wherever you are, angels and saints fill the gap.
3. Avoid sitting in a pew marked off in red and pray for absent brothers and sisters, especially the sick and homebound.
4. If you choose to receive Holy Communion after Mass, read carefully and follow exactly the instructions posted on the wall of the shrines of St. Margaret and Our Lady. Then offer back to God your own daily sacrifices, praying for those unable to receive the sacraments at this time.
Doing so, in all these ways, whether we are able to attend Mass or not, brings us up to a code of conduct worthy, as much as God’s grace allows, of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, permitting us to support each other as Living Stones and witnesses of God’s healing mercy in the world.
With every blessing,
Father Cávana Wallace