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Today after fifteen weeks, I returned to Mass since the Coronavirus caused the lockdown. It was the first Sunday Mass allowed in New York City, the first Mass had been allowed this past Monday but I had not the opportunity to go the entire week.

Yes, we had to wear masks. Yes, every other row was cordoned off from sitting, and there were tape marks on the pews locating a six-foot distance. My church has two center aisle sets of rows of pews and one set on each side. The two outer sets could be used for families where one was not required to sit six feet apart.

People were, however, required to fill out from the front of the church towards the back. As it is my habit to get there a half-hour early, I sat in the first row on the family side with my son. There would be no collection at the offertory, but everyone should drop their envelope or offering in the basket at the rear of the church. That is how I know we missed fifteen weeks of Mass. I had fifteen envelopes at home before I got to the one with today’s date.

Everyone wore masks, even our music director, Ms. Williams. There was no choir and she sang alone with the mask on. We were actually surprised to see her. We thought it would be a bare-bones, no music Mass. There were no altar servers or readers. The priest had to do all the readings. But there was precious music.

Father Eugene was alone in procession on the opening hymn, wearing a mask, but thankfully took it off once he got behind the altar. Before Mass, when he came out to ensure the altar was set properly, I was able to speak to him. If you remember I mentioned he lost his mother to the virus early on in the pandemic. I passed my sympathies to him, and then he told me between family and friends he had lost six to the virus. Oh my, I was stunned. What a cross he has had to bear through this. My son said he had a tear in his eye when he was retelling it. I was so stunned I had looked away and not noticed.

There were no missals to avoid sanitizing them, but I knew this would be, so I took with me my monthly Magnificat which has all the readings.

And then we stood for the opening hymn, “Table of Plenty.”

Come to the feast of heaven and earth!

Come to the table of plenty!

God will provide for all that we need,

Here at the table of plenty.

As the organ played and Ms. Williams, opera voiced trained, sang, Father Eugene in green vestments walked down the nave, genuflected as he faced the tabernacle, held that genuflection on his knee for a good moment, walked up the altar steps, got behind the altar, took off his black mask, bent over and kissed the top of the altar as is custom, and stood facing the congregation. “Welcome back home,” were his first words.

And for the next hour, all the troubles of the last fifteen weeks, the virus, the lockdown, the ventilators, the deaths, the protests, the riots, the statues, the cops, the cancel culture, the controversies all disintegrated into particles one by one before one’s eyes and fell from the air like dust mites. Time suddenly transformed into the timeless time of heaven, and peace settled into the sacred space.

I love Collin Raye’s version of that classic!

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  1. Bishop Wash Member

    Wonderful 

    We’ve been going back to our home church for about a month. There are a lot of similarities, every other row, no hymnals, papers with a trimmed liturgy and limited singing. 

    Today the hymnals were back in the pews. Pastor said that new CDC guidance said that the virus might not transfer on paper that well and by alternating the staggered rows between the two services it will be a week since someone could have touched the hymnal. I was surprised when my daughter (seven) hugged the hymnal. She was so happy to have it back. My wife grabbed a photo. 

    Also, they changed communion. Before they would go down the open row for distribution. Today we went back to the rail. Family units stayed six feet apart so fewer could go at a time and no kneeling. 

    • #1
    • June 28, 2020, at 8:00 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
  2. MarciN Member

    My daughter and her husband came to visit us on Cape Cod this weekend. They’ve been in Manhattan and haven’t been able to get out much beyond their apartment for the last four months. The virus is ever present for them. They were worried about bringing the virus to their parents, so we had all kinds of social distancing steps we had to take. Our basement is finished and it has its own entrance, which worked for them. Carrie has told me not to go into the room for three days. :-) We ate on the patio the entire time they were here, even in the rain. :-) But it was so good to see them, and the details didn’t matter at all.

    I hope and pray someone comes up with something soon like a good vaccine or a treatment.

    • #2
    • June 28, 2020, at 8:04 PM PDT
    • 6 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  3. KentForrester Moderator

    Amen, Manny. Anyone who has doubts about the power of the rituals of the Catholic Church to soothe one’s soul should read your post.

    • #3
    • June 28, 2020, at 8:36 PM PDT
    • 7 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  4. JennaStocker Member

    Thank you for sharing this. Going back to church is almost like realizing I was holding my breath since March, and am finally able to breath a bit easier (even with a mask).

    • #4
    • June 28, 2020, at 9:04 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  5. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… Member

    Manny, this is great news. Good for you.

    I had a disappointment this weekend. My church was scheduled to reopen today. As a volunteer, I got to attend the last two weekends, to get ready.

    But it was cancelled, announced on Friday. Bummer.

    I did get to do a Bible study with one of my groups, on Zoom. But there’s nothing like being there in person.

    • #5
    • June 28, 2020, at 10:23 PM PDT
    • 3 likes
  6. kedavis Member

    Seems to me every row could be used, with alternating spacing.

    Like:

    X___X___X___X

    __X___X___X

    X___X___X___X

    But maybe nobody has thought of that.

    Unless the rows are too close together, like airline seats. But there would still be a way to optimize things to fit in more people while keeping everyone 6 feet apart.

    • #6
    • June 29, 2020, at 1:20 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
    • This comment has been edited.
  7. Manny Member
    Manny

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Seems to me every row could be used, with alternating spacing.

    Like:

    X___X___X___X

    __X___X___X

    X___X___X___X

    But maybe nobody has thought of that.

    Unless the rows are too close together, like airline seats. But there would still be a way to optimize things to fit in more people while keeping everyone 6 feet apart.

    I would estimate the rows are less than 6 ft apart. Roughly 4 ft I would say. 

    • #7
    • June 29, 2020, at 2:17 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  8. kedavis Member

    Manny (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Seems to me every row could be used, with alternating spacing.

    Like:

    X___X___X___X

    __X___X___X

    X___X___X___X

    But maybe nobody has thought of that.

    Unless the rows are too close together, like airline seats. But there would still be a way to optimize things to fit in more people while keeping everyone 6 feet apart.

    I would estimate the rows are less than 6 ft apart. Roughly 4 ft I would say.

    Right, so if you go diagonals to add 2 ft, then you’ve got people 6 ft apart and can fit in more people using all rows. Cuz if the rows are 4 ft apart, then skipping rows means the people in the rows used are 8 ft apart which is a waste.

    • #8
    • June 29, 2020, at 3:24 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  9. Bishop Wash Member

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Seems to me every row could be used, with alternating spacing.

    Like:

    X___X___X___X

    __X___X___X

    X___X___X___X

    But maybe nobody has thought of that.

    Unless the rows are too close together, like airline seats. But there would still be a way to optimize things to fit in more people while keeping everyone 6 feet apart.

    I would estimate the rows are less than 6 ft apart. Roughly 4 ft I would say.

    Right, so if you go diagonals to add 2 ft, then you’ve got people 6 ft apart and can fit in more people using all rows. Cuz if the rows are 4 ft apart, then skipping rows means the people in the rows used are 8 ft apart which is a waste.

    Our governor is only allowing twenty-five percent capacity so staggering like that wouldn’t help any. 

    • #9
    • June 29, 2020, at 5:19 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  10. Manny Member
    Manny

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Seems to me every row could be used, with alternating spacing.

    Like:

    X___X___X___X

    __X___X___X

    X___X___X___X

    But maybe nobody has thought of that.

    Unless the rows are too close together, like airline seats. But there would still be a way to optimize things to fit in more people while keeping everyone 6 feet apart.

    I would estimate the rows are less than 6 ft apart. Roughly 4 ft I would say.

    Right, so if you go diagonals to add 2 ft, then you’ve got people 6 ft apart and can fit in more people using all rows. Cuz if the rows are 4 ft apart, then skipping rows means the people in the rows used are 8 ft apart which is a waste.

    You must be an engineer by trade also. I suffer from the same impulse to optimize everything…lol.

    • #10
    • June 29, 2020, at 7:06 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  11. Bethany Mandel Editor

    This was so beautiful, thank you so much for sharing!

    • #11
    • June 29, 2020, at 7:31 AM PDT
    • 3 likes
  12. Manny Member
    Manny

    Bethany Mandel (View Comment):

    This was so beautiful, thank you so much for sharing!

    Thank you, and thank you to all who have commented.

    • #12
    • June 29, 2020, at 7:49 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  13. Susan Quinn Contributor

    I’m so happy to hear of the peace you found back in your church, Manny. Thank you for sharing!

    • #13
    • June 29, 2020, at 8:29 AM PDT
    • 1 like
  14. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    One of our priests had a birthday on the anniversary of the other’s ordination. Parishioners arranged for them to sit outside in the shade while one vehicle after another paraded past, waved, and cheered. 

    Some are disappointed that the blessed Host is not exposed. But the church is open at least in daylight hours for blind adoration. 

    • #14
    • June 29, 2020, at 11:07 AM PDT
    • 2 likes
  15. T-Fiks Member

    Manny (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Seems to me every row could be used, with alternating spacing.

    Like:

    X___X___X___X

    __X___X___X

    X___X___X___X

    But maybe nobody has thought of that.

    Unless the rows are too close together, like airline seats. But there would still be a way to optimize things to fit in more people while keeping everyone 6 feet apart.

    I would estimate the rows are less than 6 ft apart. Roughly 4 ft I would say.

    Right, so if you go diagonals to add 2 ft, then you’ve got people 6 ft apart and can fit in more people using all rows. Cuz if the rows are 4 ft apart, then skipping rows means the people in the rows used are 8 ft apart which is a waste.

    You must be an engineer by trade also. I suffer from the same impulse to optimize everything…lol.

    Another factor for consideration is that all the pews and the top edge of the pew in front of the seated parishioners have to be sanitized after every mass (Sat night @ 5; Sun @ 8, 10, and noon. The Knights of Columbus are pretty busy these days here at St. Chas Borromeo in Tacoma.

    • #15
    • June 29, 2020, at 12:26 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  16. Manny Member
    Manny

    T-Fiks (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Seems to me every row could be used, with alternating spacing.

    Like:

    X___X___X___X

    __X___X___X

    X___X___X___X

    But maybe nobody has thought of that.

    Unless the rows are too close together, like airline seats. But there would still be a way to optimize things to fit in more people while keeping everyone 6 feet apart.

    I would estimate the rows are less than 6 ft apart. Roughly 4 ft I would say.

    Right, so if you go diagonals to add 2 ft, then you’ve got people 6 ft apart and can fit in more people using all rows. Cuz if the rows are 4 ft apart, then skipping rows means the people in the rows used are 8 ft apart which is a waste.

    You must be an engineer by trade also. I suffer from the same impulse to optimize everything…lol.

    Another factor for consideration is that all the pews and the top edge of the pew in front of the seated parishioners have to be sanitized after every mass (Sat night @ 5; Sun @ 8, 10, and noon. The Knights of Columbus are pretty busy these days here at St. Chas Borromeo in Tacoma.

    Yes, I didn’t mention it in my OP but there were Knights that helped out with everything.

    • #16
    • June 29, 2020, at 12:52 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  17. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    I’ve been able to go back once, on Pentecost. We have to sign up for the dates we can go. I’m next up in 2 weeks.

    Online just doesn’t cut it.

    • #17
    • June 29, 2020, at 12:53 PM PDT
    • 2 likes
  18. Manny Member
    Manny

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    I’ve been able to go back once, on Pentecost. We have to sign up for the dates we can go. I’m next up in 2 weeks.

    Online just doesn’t cut it.

    Really? Where do you live Skip? For us it’s first come first serve and they count until they reach the quota.

    • #18
    • June 29, 2020, at 1:04 PM PDT
    • Like
  19. SkipSul Coolidge
    SkipSul Joined in the first year of Ricochet Ricochet Charter Member

    Manny (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    I’ve been able to go back once, on Pentecost. We have to sign up for the dates we can go. I’m next up in 2 weeks.

    Online just doesn’t cut it.

    Really? Where do you live Skip? For us it’s first come first serve and they count until they reach the quota.

    Central Ohio. While the state has not restricted services, our bishops have been following state capacity utilization recommendations. For June that meant no more than 20% nave capacity, and that meant everyone could go once during the month, and that our priest tried to juggle. For July the level is lifted to 33%, with a signup, but we’re all asked to only sign up for 1 Sunday.

    • #19
    • June 29, 2020, at 1:37 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  20. Manny Member
    Manny

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    SkipSul (View Comment):

    I’ve been able to go back once, on Pentecost. We have to sign up for the dates we can go. I’m next up in 2 weeks.

    Online just doesn’t cut it.

    Really? Where do you live Skip? For us it’s first come first serve and they count until they reach the quota.

    Central Ohio. While the state has not restricted services, our bishops have been following state capacity utilization recommendations. For June that meant no more than 20% nave capacity, and that meant everyone could go once during the month, and that our priest tried to juggle. For July the level is lifted to 33%, with a signup, but we’re all asked to only sign up for 1 Sunday.

    I see. Thank you. In a way it’s fairer to do it Ohio’s way. First come first serve may exclude the same people every time. I have no idea if anyone was turned away. 

    • #20
    • June 29, 2020, at 3:26 PM PDT
    • 1 like
  21. kedavis Member

    Manny (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Manny (View Comment):

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Seems to me every row could be used, with alternating spacing.

    Like:

    X___X___X___X

    __X___X___X

    X___X___X___X

    But maybe nobody has thought of that.

    Unless the rows are too close together, like airline seats. But there would still be a way to optimize things to fit in more people while keeping everyone 6 feet apart.

    I would estimate the rows are less than 6 ft apart. Roughly 4 ft I would say.

    Right, so if you go diagonals to add 2 ft, then you’ve got people 6 ft apart and can fit in more people using all rows. Cuz if the rows are 4 ft apart, then skipping rows means the people in the rows used are 8 ft apart which is a waste.

    You must be an engineer by trade also. I suffer from the same impulse to optimize everything…lol.

    Well computer engineer, I guess you could say. Computer programming. But I always put more emphasis on optimization than the other programmers I knew. Maybe it was the way I learned things, starting with the front panel switches of a PDP-8, but I always had more of a feel for what was going on inside, and tried to make the best of it. Just for one example, you wouldn’t believe the gyrations some programmers (in particular, one woman) went through to flip a name for address-label printing from “Last, First” to “First Last.” It could make your hair stand on end. Or, another expression I probably use too often, send you screaming into the night.

    • #21
    • June 29, 2020, at 4:21 PM PDT
    • 2 likes