He only shuts up when he is writing!
From the Pastor: Happy Mother’s Day!
The churches in the Diocese of St. Petersburg are about to open up for public Masses again. Tomorrow. Not today. So today I want to show you excerpts of what Bishop Parkes wrote about the opening of the churches to the public celebration of Mass (you can read the whole thing on our website). There are some very good guidelines in here. Guidelines, note well, are not Canon Law. Some bishops have overstepped once again their authority and mandated (mandates are beyond guidelines) certain things that are overly oppressive and some that actually contradict Church law. Not here. Our bishop did a good job with these, using words like “should” and “recommended” instead of “must.” Anything in here that I might have done differently is simply a matter of prudential judgment, not a matter of right or wrong, good versus evil. So read them well, and get ready, for the Mass is coming back!
1. General Provisions
a. Inform all persons at greater risk that they are dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass. The same should be told to those who are feeling sick or experiencing respiratory symptoms as well as those who may be fearful of gathering in large groups too soon.
b. Parishes currently live streaming Masses for those who are at risk or sick should continue doing so.
c. Place hand sanitizers near the entrances to the church. Those entering and exiting the building are to perform hand hygiene. [Note: Bring your own, as there are none on the store shelves for us to purchase.]
d. Regularly clean and disinfect commonly touched surfaces in the church (see Page 5).
e. Face coverings are highly recommended.
f. Parishioners should be encouraged to bring their own hand sanitizer and face coverings.
g. It is recommended that hymnals and missalettes be removed for the time being. The parish could provide one-time use service sheets with music, use projection screens or provide online worship aids to the parish webpage that are accessible by cellphones.
2. Limiting the Size of the Congregation & Social Distancing (25% of capacity) [125 for Epiphany in the church. Additional in the hall, though space is limited there. Outdoors there is plenty of space, though your vision will be blocked by walls!]
b. Distancing: The faithful are to be reminded to maintain a 6-foot distance from each other at all times.
c. Delineating Areas:
-Seating within the worship space may be limited to every other pew...
In areas where the faithful would normally stand (e.g. to receive Communion or waiting to go to confession), place tape on the floor to indicate proper spacing between persons.
-Station ushers at the entrances to “direct traffic” and to remind people to keep 6 feet apart when entering and exiting the building.
-If all available spaces are filled, do not admit additional people to the church building.
-Encourage the people to maintain social distancing everywhere on the church property (on the steps, in the parking lot, etc.).
d. Families/Households: Members of a single household do not need to practice social distancing and may sit together.
[There are many guidelines for the Mass itself which are applicable only to the Novus Ordo which I will omit here, but here are some that you may find interesting.]
-The faithful should remove face coverings before receiving Holy Communion.
-(Pastors may need to designate a special Communion station for those who prefer Communion on the tongue.)
Beyond that, Bishop Parkes is now allowing baptisms and confirmations to take place once again. We missed our First Holy Communion date and our Confirmation date for children. We also missed Holy Saturday, the day when we traditionally bring adults into the Church through Baptism, Confirmation and Communion. We can now start to plan those celebrations.
Oh, yeah, I almost forgot. Happy Mother’s Day!
With prayers for your holiness,
Rev. Fr. Edwin Palka