March 17th of this year we celebrated the last public Mass before going into a national lockdown in an effort to prevent the spread of the corona virus. Eleven weeks later, on the weekend of June 6-7, the public celebration of Masses resumed in Marion County. Following guidelines established by federal, state and archdiocesan officials, we have celebrated daily and weekly Masses at Christ the King since that time and have returned to a full sacramental life.
According to the National Catholic News Agency, there have been no reports of an outbreak of COVID19 linked to church attendance in parishes following the proper protocols. This includes places where asymptomatic parishioners, who did not know that they were infected, have been present at Mass and parish activities.
In some places of our country, however, heavy restrictions continue to be placed on the Church. In the Archdiocese of San Francisco, for example, only outdoor Masses are permitted and no more than fifty parishioners can participate at a given Mass. In the same Archdiocese, only one person is allowed in a church at any one time. This means that in the cathedral church that holds 2,500 people, only one worshiper can enter at a time! Let us pray for those who continue to be denied the possibility to celebrate the Eucharist and the sacraments of the Church.
At the same time, let us treasure the opportunity we have to celebrate the Eucharist together. Each week, we are delighted to see more and more parishioners returning to ‘in person’ participation at Mass. As attendance grows, let us be mindful of the protocols that are meant to keep us safe and that we must continue to follow in order to protect the health of our fellow- parishioners. These protocols are:
- If you have a fever or do not feel well, do not come to Mass.
- Wash your hands before Mass and use the hand sanitizer available in the narthex of the church when arriving for Mass.
- Wear a mask at all times at Mass and make sure that the mask covers both your nose and mouth.
- Respect social distancing of six feet between yourself and other non-family parishioners while seated in church.
- At Communion time, Holy Communion is distributed to one section at a time. Please wait until the Communion minister motions for your section to come forward. Do not cross over from one section to another causing people to be moving in both directions at the same time.
- Maintain six feet of distance while standing in line for Holy Communion.
- Do not congregate in church or the vestibule after Mass.
As we thank God for the great opportunity we have to celebrate the Mass and the sacraments, let us be mindful and respectful of the protocols that make it possible for us to do this safely.
The Mass that currently offers the most available space is the 11:30 a.m. Mass on Sunday morning. The 8:00 a.m. Sunday Mass will continue to be celebrated outside as long as weather permits.
Thank you for your spirit of good will and cooperation through all of the events of these past months. Let us not let our guard down now.
See you at Mass!