What Will Mass Look Like?

05-16-2020Pastor's LetterFather Gregory Wilson

Hello again, my beloved parishioners of St. Mary’s! I wanted to reprint a recent Facebook post on outward changes to the Mass.

Know first: I realize that this is difficult. It is extremely difficult for all of us. But I know that we as a St. Mary’s family can pull together to get through this. I have already been amazed to see people come together to make this happen. This has required the cooperation of dozens of faithful staff and parishioners. Let’s give them a big thank you!

Some changes you might notice:

- The communal Sign of Peace continues to be suspended.

- We continue to omit drinking from common chalices. (Recall - All the grace necessary of Jesus’ Real Presence exists even the tiniest piece of the Sacred Host.)

- Ushers will help you be seated. Please follow their guidance as they help to space people properly.

- Since we must operate at 25% capacity, everyone will enter through the main doors so we can keep count. People may exit through any door.

- If more than the maximum number of people show up for Mass, we will have overflows to St. Angela Hall at the 5pm Sat., 11am Sun., and 12:30pm Sun. (Spanish Mass) You will be able to participate in the Mass livestream, and Holy Communion will be brought over.

- Baskets for the collection will not be passed. A basket will be available in the narthex to drop in a donation hands-free.

- Any handouts will be minimal and one-use only.

- All holy water continues to be removed.

- Holy Communion will be distributed after Mass has completely concluded. Please keep six feet from the person in front of you, and please receive Our Lord in the hand. Those receiving in the traditional manner should approach last and come to me or a deacon

This will seem unusual at first, but, it will accomplish at least two important things: People will be able to leave or pray after receiving Holy Communion, thus controlling the exit of people so that it is not all at once. Also, the priest, deacon, and any EMs will be able to immediately wash their hands.

- At least at first, we will have music but no congregational singing. “Vigorous singing, especially in close proximity to others, may increase the risk of viral spread” (guidance from the USCCB). Of course, talking creates aerosols as well, which is why people are asked to wear a mask. Singing, it seems, creates even smaller particles for a longer, more sustained period of time.

- Because the Sacrament of Reconciliation (Confession) is not yet available, for the month of May at Sunday Masses (including the vigil on Saturday), the Bishop has authorized the extraordinary use of General Absolution. This will be done before the Masses begin, so please come early if you need to receive it.

“What does this mean?” – This is NOT a replacement for individual confession. This is a gift from the Bishop so that one may receive Holy Communion without qualms of conscience if he or she bears a mortal sin. If a mortal sin had been committed, it still must then be confessed individually when the Sacrament resumes. This is done especially in wartime and other extreme circumstances when individual confession is an impossibility. If one survives the situation that has brought about General Absolution, then he or she brings it to the normal celebration of the Sacrament of Confession.

“Wasn’t this done a few years ago?” – Some of you may recall when General Absolution was abused, especially in the 70s, 80s, and 90s. Some priests used it in place of the actual Sacrament., but this was an abuse. General Absolution actually obligates a person to confess mortal sins when the normal Sacrament becomes available.

Again, I realize all of this is difficult. I am certain that we as a parish family will pull together to get through this. One day this will end, and we can have a more normative experience of Holy Mass. Until then, consider offering any frustration up to the Lord, joining your suffering to His suffering on the Cross for the salvation of the world.

Let us pray for each other. God bless!

Father Wilson