Whereas it is good news to many that the parish has daily public Masses once again, the flip side of the coin is not only that the congregation are required to wear a mouth covering while inside the building. Instead, we are required to have only 100 people gathered at any given time. As the Lord’s parable reminds us, it just takes one sheep amid the 100 to push the boundaries and the Shepherd has to leave the 99 behind.
This numerical directive does not apply to the outside piazza, although social distancing and face coverings are still required in this outdoor area. Although Catholics are still not under any obligation to present themselves at this time at a public gathering of Mass, I am grateful that those who do so are choosing to attend a weekday evening Mass (Monday, Wednesday or Friday at 6pm) or a weekday morning Mass (Tuesday’s or Thursday’s at 8am). This has helped immensely.
If we reach the maximum capacity inside the church on any given day, the ushers may have to ask you to remain in the piazza until the final blessing where you can follow the prayers of the Mass with the help of your own prayer book, a downloaded app or by listening carefully to the outside speakers. Mass every day inside the church takes around 30 mins, and once completed, whether you are inside or outside, if you are prepared to receive Holy Communion you may do so by making your way through the inside colonnades to the Blessed Sacrament Chapel.
If receiving Holy Communion, there is strong recommendation at this time to do so directly onto your outstretched palm, which, because of the purity of Christ’s Real Presence, must also be free from impurities or contaminants. Make use of the hand sanitizer as you approach Holy Communion. I’ve even added a few drops of Holy Water and Blessed oil to the mix. Consider it “Sanctified Sanitizer”!
Those who would normally attend the older form of the Mass, if receiving Holy Communion directly on the tongue, may choose to retain their custom. As there will be no kneeler, I would ask that you remain standing, doing so perfectly still, close your eyes, open your mouth fully and extend your tongue completely, as you would for a doctor. One way or another, our attention during Holy Communion should be focused primarily on Christ and also the protection of the clergy’s health, which, if compromised, risks the public availability of the Holy Mass itself.
Although this communication has much to do about procedures in place for those who are attending one of the daily Masses, I am also very conscious of the environment we are living in outside the church walls. To that end, I will be sharing with you soon some pastoral thoughts and reflections based on the sevenfold gifts of the Holy Spirit that must help us dispel the evils of fear, prejudice and rash judgment so prevalent in our society that it can also influence church members at every level.
In the meantime, a defining characteristic of the Christian is our inner peace and joy offered as a free gift by Our Lord Himself. Even though we wear a covering over our mouth, it is our eyes and our gaze into the world that must reflect this gift of Christ the Good Shepherd offered through us to the world.
Father Cávana Wallace