Dear Brothers & Sister in Christ,
One of the insights we have discovered during this pandemic is the desire to participate in-person at the celebration of the Eucharist. In the beginning weeks of the pandemic priests were celebrating Mass in empty churches, while parishioners watched at home on tablets, computers, and cellphones. For many, both priests and laity, this did not feel right, something was lacking. Missing was the community gathered to give praise and glory to God. During the time of closed churches, many rediscovered the importance of community, an aspect of worship we may have taken for granted before the pandemic.
Community just doesn’t happen, it takes work! A group of people occupying the same space in a building does not necessarily mean community. Community is kinship and can only form when individuals surrender their “I, me, mine”, and strive for “we, us, our.” As we have re-opened the church with limited seating, it is important for all of us to practice the sacred virtue of humility and surrender for the sake of the Lord. Many may ask themselves, “What does surrender to the Lord look like?” The answer is simple:
- Please don’t get angry or upset when told that the church has reached its seating capacity and you need to go to one of the other Masses. If you reserve a ticket, be sure to arrive 15 to 30 minutes before Mass. Remember, 10 minutes before Mass we permit those in the “stand-by line” to enter the church if there is still room available.
- Follow the usher’s direction to the next available pew/seat, even though it is not your “usual” pew or spot in the pew.
As we endure these uncertain times, many of our fellow parishioners long to attend Mass at church but are unable to do so for a variety of reasons. For those who have made the choice to attend church in person, let us remember the real reason why we attend Mass. We attend Mass only to give praise to our God.
We come together as brothers and sisters in Christ to worship and glorify Him. It is not about ‘me’ demanding to get in because “I” have a ticket; or sitting in ‘my’ pew; or at the end of the pew which is ‘mine’. Rather, ‘we’ gather with fellow parishioners as a parish family, asking for God’s graces and blessings upon ‘us’ and ‘our’ loved ones, parish, country, and world.
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Peter Puntal & Fr. John McCracken