Because it has happened several times over these past few months, it is clear that in order to try to stop text messages and email messages supposedly from me, especially asking for your generosity by buying gift cards or money cards, I will need to either change my main email account or perhaps try sending some parish items, such as the bulletin, from a different email account.
Please be wary of any email messages or text messages evidently from me requesting a quick response of a purchase even if it is requesting something for a generous outreach ministry need. Thank you for your generosity and for thinking well of me if you have considered responding to one of those requests! Nevertheless, please be well advised that I will not make a request like that. Thankfully our parish has procedures for outreach – again thanks to your consistent generosity – that don’t depend on requests like in those messages.
On a different and encouraging note, for the first time since opening for public Masses on Monday, May 18th, we came close to our allowed capacity this past Sunday at the 10:30 a.m. Mass. We can have up to 50% of our capacity, which realistically at St. Benedict Church would be ~125 people in the main body of the church. Most of our Masses over these past 2 ½ months have averaged between 50 – 70 people, with only one Mass with 90 people. This past Sunday at the 10:30 a.m. Mass we had 109 people, including the half dozen masked and distanced members of our choir and some parishioners in the “sky box” (i.e. the Cry Room). I must admit that on one hand there was what I considered sufficient space between individuals and household groups. Yet, on the other hand, we really did not have much more space if more than that arrived.
Interestingly, as we’ve been tracking attendance, the 10:30 a.m. Mass has been one of the lightest attended Masses. We’ve had more at the 8:00 a.m. Mass and even had the highest number at the 12:15 p.m. Mass at Sts. Peter & Paul in Lore City on the first weekend of July.
So, if you are uncomfortable with a gathering of that size, close to capacity, if you’re here when that happens don’t feel bad if you need to quietly excuse yourself and plan to attend another Mass or even a daily Mass instead. That’s one of the reasons the bishops of Ohio have suspended the requirement for the Sunday Mass obligation. And, please do not be offended if our ushers post a sign on the doors that we have reached our capacity and even lock the doors to prevent additional people from entering (in such a case, know that all of our doors can open from the inside)!
And, because the governor’s mask order is still active, please do wear a mask when attending Mass or other prayer services in our churches. We have additional masks on hand if you forget a mask at home or leave it in the car. We will continue to “air out” our church buildings and sanitize the pews between events to keep our churches as clean as possible.
Some very strong suggestions were made from parishioners this past week regarding distribution and receiving Communion. While I have usually mentioned that the masks could be left in the pew while going forward to receive Communion, I will no longer offer that option. Please continue to wear your mask while in the line and only lower the mask for placing the Host in your mouth.
Here are some thoughts about receiving Communion on the tongue, a concern from several parishioners. This is meant to be absolutely respectful of the various angles of this issue.
Regarding receiving Communion directly in the mouth rather than in the hand, here is what Bishop Monforton has posted at the Diocese of Steubenville’s website: “During this time, the faithful are strongly encouraged to receive Holy Communion in the hand. However, liturgical law allows the faithful to choose to receive either in the hand or on the tongue.” Please note that we purposely use a variety of hosts that have minimal to negligible crumbs that develop from them, one of the chief and legitimate concerns prompting many to choose to receive Communion directly in the mouth. Others are concerned that those who receive this way breathe more substantially into the air both in that space where others will receive Communion and onto the ministers of Holy Communion. So, should we consider having stations to the side, perhaps with a kneeler (for optional use, of course), for those receiving on the tongue? This way they would breathe into a space less occupied by anyone else and have an additional dimension of reverence.
Oh my! Praise God that we are at the point where we can have these concerns because we are open for public Masses, right!?
May the Lord keep us protected and healthy and, as always, well prepared for the gift of eternal life!!