Earlier this year we experienced the profound suffering of the suspension of public Masses due to the coronavirus pandemic, even including Easter. Some people, particularly those most vulnerable to the virus, are still experiencing the suffering of not being able to be present in our churches. For those of us who are back, it still isn’t “normal” — we’re still wearing masks, still asked to refrain from congregational singing, asked not to gather in some of the ways we’re accustomed to.
After all these months, it’s wearying. But it’s also still necessary.
The Catholic Church across America has in many ways modeled what it means to reopen safely. Church leaders, in consultation with experts in the relevant fields, came up with serious protocols to reduce the risks of disease spread. Nothing in these circumstances can be perfectly safe, but overall it seems that the protocols have helped make things as safe as they can be.
But as we watch the headlines and daily reports and see the number of positive tests for the virus in our state spiking, it should be a sobering reminder of the need to be vigilant. We are approaching our long, cold winter. We’re entering flu season. This is a difficult time of year even in normal circumstances, a time when people can feel isolated and lonely. It’s all the more so given the isolation, loneliness, and fear people have already been trying to manage.
The Holy Mass is always necessary for us — and for the world, whether it knows it or not. But it’s all the more when we’re suffering, afraid, and lonely.
And that’s why even after all these months, even if it’s a pain, we need to follow the protocols and other guidance of church leaders to make sure that coming to Mass is as safe as we can make it.