Editor’s note: Fr. Michael F. Olsen, the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth, told parishes that the distribution of the Eucharist — holy communion — be suspended for the time being. The diocese had allowed parishes to distribute communion in the parking lots of churches until this week.
The Church is quiet during this coronavirus torment. After trying valiantly to maintain some semblance of Sunday Mass, our bishop — Michael F. Olsen — has finally conceded that public health requires us to abandon any public aspect of the liturgy.
For us, as practicing Catholics, it is a hard decision but one we understand and agree with.
We are still celebrating Mass, livestreaming it to our congregation and anyone who wishes to “tune in,” so to speak. It is better than nothing and gives people the word of God and joins us together in prayer, even if remotely. One thing that priests field (and I’m sure any minister fields them, too) are complaints about the environment of our service: crying children, people going to the bathroom, returning from the bathroom, coming in late, leaving early, ushers doing whatever it is that they do, people reading the bulletin during the homily (then promptly forgetting everything they have read) chatting, etc., etc.
None of that is going on now! Nothing but peace and quiet. It is so nice.
And completely dead. The eerie silence is a symbol of the kind of Church that we think we would like to have. A church where everyone behaves, everyone is engaged, everyone is listening attentively. That kind of church (and congregation) never exists. I suppose in some monasteries and convents, the ideal seems to be present, but underneath, their humanity seeps in even in the quiet. Anyway, it is not any parish that I have been in. Nor have I been the perfect participant, either. I’ve gone to the bathroom, paid no attention to what was being done, forgot what I read and generally have been imperfect.
When I was sick as a child, all I could hope for was to get better so that I could get back to my normal — and boring — life. How much I want that now as well. To go to the restaurants, catch a movie, go to a party and, yes, go to Mass with the imperfect congregation.
I’d like to say that I’ll never complain about all the distractions again, but that would be unlikely. I haven’t fixed that. I hope I’ll appreciate it more though when it does return — God willing.
Prayers for our world.