Going to Mass since the pandemic broke out and restrictions were put in place has been a strange experience, to say the least. My home parish is one of the more “paranoid.” Every other pew has been blocked off. We enter through only one door and leave through another door. Two hand sanitizer stations are prominent in the gathering area. The bathrooms are now “for emergencies only” (a horrid diaper explosion counts, right?). We must have our temperature taken at the front entrance. Everyone must wear a mask. If you don’t wear a mask, you must either sit outside and listen to the Mass via speakers or leave and watch the Mass on the Facebook livestream. We can no longer sing in church because of the danger of droplets flying everywhere, propelled by the force of our Christian fervor. There is no shaking hands or hugging during the sign of peace. We can’t get up for Communion. The priest brings Him to you. You may not receive on the tongue, only on the hand.
The other Catholic church we have visited does not have nearly as many restrictions. They do the “every other pew” thing, but almost no one wears a mask, and they all sing. There are also tons of people congregating outside (probably not six feet apart) because the church itself doesn’t hold many and now holds even fewer due to the aforementioned “every other pew” thing.
Weirdly, I am finding my church’s Mass more reverent than I had before because of one reason: increased silence. Without everyone processing to the priest in the Communion line, I am not distracted by noticing everyone’s outfit and thinking stuff like, “Ooh, I had no idea she was pregnant!” and “Man, that guy’s beard is super long.” There is no singing, except by the cantor, so I can focus better on the lyrics of the songs and notice things I had not noticed before.
So in all this craziness, there is a silver lining. Or maybe I made it for myself by taking advantage of the extra “quiet” time.