Churches in my area were allowed to open up this week, and for the first time since mid-March Hubby Tony and I went to Mass. Things were pretty different. To start, to ensure that the church kept within the guidelines they capped attendance at 150 people (25 percent of their capacity based on the fire code), and we had to make a reservation online.
When Tony pulled into the parking lot ten minutes early there were still some parking spaces available. We put our masks on, and headed towards the building. Usually we're two out of a large stream of people entering, but today the stream was just a trickle. Every door we passed through was propped open so we didn't have to touch the handles..
Inside the church proper more changes awaited us. First, there was no holy water available. Every other pew was blocked off with painter's tape, and more pieces of tape were placed on the floor to reinforce the correct distancing during Communion. There was no missals in the pews, no offertory basket, and no sign of peace. The music was provided by just a pianist and cantor.
Once in our pew we could choose to leave our mask on or take it off until it was time to process up to the altar for Communion. Before communion the priest offered the closing prayer. People could choose to leave immediately, or go back to their pews to pray. Either way, that ensured there wouldn't be a flood of people trying to exit at the same time. There were also specific instructions for receiving communion (bread only-no communal cup). We were to pull down our masks, present our cupped hands to receive the host, consume it, and then immediately pull our mask up before we walked away.
Needless to say there was no socializing in the narthex afterwards. On the way out of the building I grabbed a bulletin from the self-serve stack, then used some of the hand sanitizer that was placed next to it. Reading the bulletin, I learned that they were looking for people to wipe down the high traffic areas after each service. They promised to provide an automatic reservation for the mass and all the necessary cleaning products.
This in-person Mass was much more satisfying than the streamed versions we've watched since the quarantine started, but since Tony and I are considered in the high risk category we will evaluate our attendance from week to week and see how it goes.
Five years ago today: 'How To Make Mistakes And Miss The Voice Within'