May 21, 2020 Parish Update

Posted on May 21, 2020

Like many people of my generation my early religious education was based on the Baltimore Catechism.  The Catechism contained a series of questions and answers about the central tenets of our faith which as children we memorized.  There are some who say the memorization alone of those questions and answers did not make us very good Catholics because we didn’t understand the reasoning behind the questions and the answers. I suppose that could be true for some but the sisters who taught me were smart women and they not only had us memorize the questions and answers: “Why did God make you? God made me to know and love Him in this world and live with Him in the next.” but also understand the answers.

I remember in particular the part of the Catechism in which we learned the Ten Commandments.  I must have been in third grade with Sister Auralian who one day pointed out that the Ten Commandments were all about the fact that just because we can do something it doesn’t mean we should.  It was like a whole new world opened up the day she said that.  Of course I could do lots of things–be mean to my little brother.  I was older, stronger, and probably meaner but I didn’t have to be mean, I shouldn’t be mean.  I got it.

I thought of Sister Auralian’s instruction this past week when the Supreme Court struck down the governor’s stay at home orders.  The bars were filled that night.  Just because the bars could open and people could go and they did.  They could do it but should they have done it?  That’s the question.

Bishop Callahan has issued the definitive guidelines for celebrating Mass publicly.  We can do it beginning 1 June.  The question is should we do it?  There are all sorts of restrictions which will make it not seem like Mass at all.  And those over 60 and definitely those over 65 should not attend.  And everyone will have to wear masks, not talk to anyone on the way in or out and stay apart.  Also, we can only let in about 100 people.  And finally each parish has to have a Safety Manager who is responsible for ensuring the church is sanitized between uses, we can only have ushers who are not over 60, there is hand sanitizer at the entrances and no one touches anyone else.  Just doesn’t sound like Mass to me.

This coming week I will reach out to the parish and finance councils and seek their input on when and if we should open to public Masses.  Should we just have one to begin with, to see how it goes, or should we start with the two we’re allowed to have Sunday morning? What other concerns do they have?  Again, the issue for me is just because we can do this is it prudential?  Is it wise?  Christ is never far from us whether we are in church or not and it is not a question of spiritual good or bodily good.  The two are never really separated in the Catholic imagination.  After all we are the ones who believe in a bodily resurrection.  This is all uncharted territory for us.  I only pray that as we move forward we do it as wisely as possible…  GRS