Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As you likely have heard, the City of Aiken passed an ordinance on Monday the 13th to require face coverings in enclosed public spaces in order to help stem the increasing spread of the virus that causes COVID-19. While religious bodies are not specifically included, the Bishop has asked that parishes in the diocese conform to local government ordinances. After all, we gather together more people in one enclosed space with recirculated – not filtered – air than any business or restaurant in Aiken.
Although the ordinance states that “people whose religious beliefs prevent them from wearing a Face Covering” are exempt, the Catholic Church’s teachings do not object to face coverings during this pandemic. In fact, the Church sees it as an act of charity towards others since it helps prevent the wearer from the possible spread of the virus, even if the wearer doesn’t realize he or she is sick. We do it because we are a pro-life people, and we wish to avoid people contracting the disease and dying unnecessarily.
Beginning this weekend, everyone attending Holy Mass inside the church must wear a face covering or mask during the celebration of Mass, except for the act of receiving Holy Communion. The covering must cover both your mouth and nose. Free, sterile face coverings will be provided at the door of the church for those who may not have one or may have forgotten theirs. Priests, deacons, extraordinary ministers of Holy Communion, and altar servers will also wear face coverings unless performing some essential act of speaking, such as reading the Sacred Scriptures, preaching, praying the prayers of the Mass, or something similar. When they do these tasks, they are already a good, safe distance from others.
I realize that for some this will be a great burden, so I ask all of us to join this to the sufferings of Christ on the Cross and offer any frustrations or inconveniences we might have for the health and safety of all those affected by the virus, for the repose of the souls who have died from it, and for a swift and safe end to the pandemic. I want to thank each of you for humbly observing this directive. It is serious. As of Tuesday morning the 14th according to DHEC, 19.34% of all patients occupying hospital beds in South Carolina had the virus. That’s nearly one in five patients. Only one month ago it was 7.96%.
As I mentioned before, we must take every precaution out of an abundance of caution. If a case or cases of the virus can be shown to have originated from gatherings at St. Mary’s, we will have to discontinue all Masses and other Sacraments again, something we never want to do. Thank you again for humbly doing your part to help. The Sacraments are a lifeline, especially in times like this, and we want to be able to continue to keep them going.
Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, have mercy on us!Holy Virgin Mary, Help of Christians, pray for us!
Father Wilson.BACK TO LIST