Will it be a Church bursting at the seams, with those who have been away from the liturgy in some cases for two months swarming the doors and finally appreciating the treasures of the institution, wherein resides the Real Presence? Will priests be renewed? Might they have spent these cloistered weeks pondering how better to look upward instead of inwards — focusing not on the human part of the institution but its supernatural element? Will homilies be tighter, packed with more force? Will the faithful pray from the heart, and not rote? Will the Host now be raised with special fervor and for longer rarefied moments during Consecration — savored as a true Grace from Jesus, not just a symbol, not something to rush through? Will the Precious Blood be treated as the remedy for evil that it can be when properly handled? Will music be more sparing and traditional? Or will it be a Church that limps out of the stagnation, lessened by those who have decided, during lockdowns, that they can do without? Will we see a Church reinvigorated or still weary over what has been wearying it for years now (the abuse crisis) and mired in what, during a global crisis, seemed like trivial disputes?
We know the response in Las Vegas: tremendously long lines as casinos reopen. We know that Wall Street has kicked up its collective heels once more. Coins clink; dice tumble.
But what of Catholicism? What of a world in which — as just one example — the institution of marriage is vanishing like eroded marsh? During the crisis, did we learn anything, or has the lesson intended by God gone unmet?
As for logistics: dioceses will reopen, for the most part, in accordance with government guidelines, which vary from state to state. But how will Mass look? Will masks be worn — and if so, lifted for Communion; is that what we will see? Or simple distancing in the way of six feet between those in the pews? Will everyone still touch common Missals? Will there be more Masses so as to space out congregants, or fewer Masses because fewer are attending? What about Holy Water?
And distribution of the hosts: what measures will be taken with priests and extraordinary ministers to make sure they are not disseminating this bizarre virus that taunts and haunts? For how long will shaking hands during the Mass greeting be banned? Will those who hold hands during the Lord’s Prayer ever go back to that? And what will it be like in halls and gathering spaces?
In our parish, during the lockdown, it has been a schedule of eight a.m. to noon during which only the main door is open, with an attendant seated just inside with mask and gloves, wiping the door every time a person touches it and doing the same when those inside — limited to ten people at a time in a church that seats six hundred — leaves: wiping down the few pews that have not been cordoned off.
In the Blessed Sacrament chapel has been the special feeling of what we have been missing, and what can be lost.
Around the world:
From Catholic News Agency:
WASHINGTON (CNS) — A draft of guidelines the White House is preparing to issue about steps to take in reopening parts of the U.S. that had been closed during the pandemic includes suggestions for reopening houses of worship. The section on faith communities says they “may consider and accept or reject” the guidelines, “consistent with their own faith tradition.”
A copy of the 17-page draft, based on recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and published April 27 by The Washington Post, says faith communities should consider limiting their public gatherings in the first phase of reopening and offer means of virtual participation for those in vulnerable conditions. In all the gradual stages of reopening, the draft of the report recommends that faith communities consider temporarily limiting the sharing of hymnals or other worship materials and consider using a collection box in one place instead of passing collection baskets. It also suggests not having choir or music groups during services at this time or at least limiting the number of choir members and keeping them at least six feet apart.
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The White House has consulted four Catholic bishops who have reinstated public Masses, as the Trump administration considers issuing guidelines on the safe reopening of churches and religious services during the coronavirus pandemic. Multiple sources confirmed to CNA that officials from the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Centers for Disease Control conducted a series of conference calls with bishops from three states on Tuesday and Wednesday.
Are you longing for the Holy Eucharist? You are not alone. Countless members of the Mystical Body across the world feel keenly the separation from Christ’s Real Presence. The joy of the Easter season this year is tinged with sorrow at the separation. We are living one of the great paradoxes of our faith, which is that joy and sorrow are often mingled together in this life. We trust, despite this sorrow, that this period of separation from Him in Holy Communion is an opportunity for us to grow in profound love for Him and the Church.
Multiple sources confirmed to CNA that officials from the White House Domestic Policy Council and the Centers for Disease Control conducted a series of conference calls with bishops from three states on Tuesday and Wednesday. The bishops of Las Cruces, New Mexico, Lubbock, Texas, and Billings-Great Falls and Helena, Montana, spoke to administration officials who asked for feedback on the dioceses’ resumption of public ministry in line with state public health orders.