May 24, 2020 – Father’s Ramblings

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ, The Lord is Risen! He is truly Risen!

So far the tin can (the end of the lockdown) has not been kicked down the road again; we are still on track for returning to public Masses at the end of May. I wouldn’t hold my breath if I were you, seeing how things have gone, but at least there isn’t any bad news. Let’s take a win when we can get one.

Back at the beginning of April I invited you to pause and evaluate how the first couple weeks of this event went. Everyone was scrambling and trying to make sense of the world, and it was a hectic time. We all needed to pause and reflect how we handled it and how we wanted to move forward.

As we approach a major turning point (hopefully, God help us) it is worth taking some time again to reflect on the over two months of quarantine. How did we do during this time? There will certainly have been different experiences: some lost jobs while others continued to work; some had the experience of trying to educate their children at home while others are many years past that; some people are introverts and had an easier time while some are extroverts and had a harder time; etc. In general, how did it go for you? What did you learn about yourself?

It is also useful to reflect on how we used this strange time. Most would have found more time their hands. How did you use that time? Did you accomplish more or less? Was it wasted binge watching TV or did you get some extra books read? Maybe it was somewhere in the middle: you didn’t waste time but for some reason you feel like you accomplished less than you should have with all the extra time. Again, it is an opportunity for reflection to learn about ourselves.

While we take the time to look back, it is also time to look ahead. Again, there are limits to how much we can plan because we don’t have a clear date for reopening, but we can at least start talking about some general things to help us get ready for gathering again for Mass. When we look ahead, it is always good to remember that there is a limit to what we can do. There is no way that we can truly make Mass “safe.” We can attempt to mitigate some exposure, but there will never be a guarantee of safety.

Some things we already had in place before the lockdown. The distribution of the Precious Blood will be suspended. There will be no Holy Water in the fonts. The Sign of Peace will be suspended. Some things are easy to plan and implement. One thing we have already done is to rope off every other pew in the churches to comply with the social distancing guidelines. This means you might not be able to sit in your favorite spot, but it is a good opportunity to see the churches from a different angle.

This will of course necessitate some changes to the Mass schedule since there will be less room for people at each Mass. The current plan for the Mass schedule has three main parts. First, I will be adding a third Mass on Sunday at noon in Lowell. This will help make up for the lack of space at each Mass. Second, the Saturday evening Mass will be set aside as the “vulnerable population” Mass. Whether it is due to age or underlying health conditions, I would like the Saturday evening Mass reserved for those who are more vulnerable so that they can feel more comfortable coming to Mass. Third, we will be putting together a digital sign-up so that people can spread out across the Masses.

There are two other specifics that I would like to address because I have gotten questions about them. Regarding face masks, you are strongly encouraged to wear face masks while at church. I cannot make this a rule because it would be an unenforceable rule, and it is a bad idea to make unenforceable rules. However, I ask you to consider your neighbors, and I strongly encourage you to wear face masks.

The second specific item is in regard to the reception of Holy Communion. There will be much more to sort out for how we handle the distribution of Communion, but for now I can clearly say that reception of Communion on the tongue will continue. Communion on the tongue is the norm in the Catholic Church, and it is not in my power to change this. We will look to address some concerns that a few have about this, but this is still a work in progress.

There will, of course be more guidelines coming. I am confident in saying that Mass will be different for a while. In some ways Mass might be different permanently; we will have to see. Regardless of what we do, though, we can never make Mass truly safe. Much of this depends on you, your tolerance for risk, and your personal responsibility.

May the peace of Christ guard your minds and hearts!

–Fr. Ferris

Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron Ferris
Rev. Aaron R. Ferris Ordination Date: June 6, 2009 Pastor, St. Anthony Parish (Saranac) and St. Mary’s Parish (Lowell) 402 Amity Street Lowell, MI 49331 Phone: 616-897-9820
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