By the time you read this, we will have shown a webinar that outlines a revised Parish Vision. The Vision focuses on helping people “Encounter Christ Through Word, Liturgy, Charity and Community.” This will involve participation by parishioners, Parish Staff and the Pastor.
Priests have two families. They have their parish family. They also have their natural family – something that people sometimes forget. Recently there have been a number of situations in my natural family to which I must attend. This will require some additional time on my part. Thus, for a while, I will not be offering the Porch Talks nor writing a weekly Spiritual Reflection in the parish bulletin. I hope to be able to return to both of them soon.
This week I would like to offer a different type of weekly reflection. The first part is a unique and special invitation. The second part is a request to address a pastoral-liturgical issue.
For several years, our parish has been guided by the vision “Encountering Christ through Word, Liturgy, and Service”. We currently find ourselves in a new place however. Recent months have found us responding to the signs of the times in this Covid affected season. We have attempted to listen and discern how the Holy Spirit is working in – and through – the people of St. Monica as we look towards the future.
I feel that this is an appropriate time to share a revitalized and renewed vision. This will hopefully carry us forward into the near future. Where are we going? How are we stewarding our gifts and resources? What is God asking of us as members of St. Monica Parish?
Please join me on Tuesday, April 20 for an online Zoom webinar. I will present the answers to these and other questions concerning our parish vision. You will also be offered the opportunity to ask your own questions. This presentation will be offered at two different times. Both will be recorded for you to view later:
April 20 at 12 pm https://us02web.zoom.us/j/85050353556
April 20 at 7 pm https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86278547749
The second issue involves the distribution of the Eucharist at Holy Communion.
The way that Holy Communion has been distributed during Mass at St. Monica has been exemplary. I have heard this expressed by parishioners and visitors to our parish. Here the Eucharist is received with reverence, respect, and attention to the guidelines which we have been provided. Nevertheless, I and others have noticed a number of incidences that are recurring. I believe these need to be addressed. Allow me to revisit the guidelines and recommendations one by one.
The first item involves the reception of the host. When you approach the priest or extraordinary minister of communion, please remove your mask from your face or completely pull the mask down. What has happened is that people approach to receive the Eucharistic in their hand while still wearing their mask. As people move away, they attempt to adjust or remove the mask with one hand while trying to consume the Eucharist with the other hand. Or they attempt to adjust or remove their mask with both hands while still holding the Eucharistic host. This has led to a number of cases where people have dropped the host while trying to make that adjustment.
Thus, The recommendation is to remove the mask totally as you approach the priest or Eucharistic minister. Immediately consume the host. Readjust or put the mask back on as you move away.
The second item involves social distancing. The recommendation is that we maintain 6 feet between people receiving the Eucharist as they approach the priest or Eucharistic Minister. What is happening is that people are receiving the host, then take one step and either facing the altar or pausing for a moment before consuming the host. They do this out of respect to our Lord in the Eucharistic species. This is good and noble and demonstrates reverence for the Eucharist.
The problem is that in those few seconds of pausing, one or more people approach the Eucharistic minister or priest and a mini traffic jam begins to develop. If this is done in both lines, a small crowd begins to form at the front of church. Thus the recommendation concerning social distancing is lost.
There are markers on the floor that indicate where to stand as you approach the priest or Eucharistic minister. Thus, the recommendation:* Single file up the middle aisle. * Once you get to the front of the church, you can either go forward towards the priest/Eucharistic minister at the front, or peel off to the left to the priest/Eucharistic minister on the left side. * Maintain a 6 foot distance from the person receiving the Eucharist. * Once you receive the host, immediately consume the host and immediately begin walking back to your pew.
I understand and commend the respect and love and reverence that you have for our Lord in the Eucharistic. Nevertheless, it will be helpful and an act of charity, if you would quickly return to your pew and not affect the people immediately behind you.
I recognize that these issues are very personal and very sensitive. We are trying to balance a number of items, all of them that are “goods.” The Catholic Church has always believed in the ideal of sacrifice for the common good. I’m asking for your understanding in trying to address a tricky situation. I am certainly open to other recommendations and input from you. I always look forward to conversations with the good people of St. Monica.