We are finalizing plans for opening school on August 11. Our teachers, administrators and maintenance people have been working on an enormous number of details to make this work. Everyone’s temperature will be taken two or three times a day; surfaces will be sanitized; seating will be spaced out in classrooms; masks will be required for anyone in a hallway or restroom.
One of the back-to-school plans will have ramifications for our daily Mass people. A Catholic school needs to offer regular Mass for the children. This presents a challenge for a large school with the spacing requirements of a pandemic. After measuring, we have determined that we can bring two grades to Mass at a time. With four weekly school Masses, we can bring grades 1-8 for Mass each week. However, our classes are large enough that we will need to use all of the pews in the church in order to fit the students and teachers. Beginning August 14, we will have school Masses on Tuesday through Friday mornings at 8:15, with the pews reserved for the school. In order to accommodate our other Massgoers, we plan to set up chairs around the periphery of the church, much like Christmas. Those who are not students or teachers will be asked to use the chairs. I have been very pleased with the number of people coming for daily Masses and I hope that we don’t discourage anyone with this arrangement. For anyone who is not comfortable seated on a chair along the back of the church or anyone who isn’t comfortable being around so many children, one of our other daily Masses may be a better option. We have two other Masses on Monday through Friday: 6:15 a.m. and 6:30 p.m. For now, this is the best solution we can come up with. Lord, please let this pandemic pass us by!
Last week I mentioned that the pandemic has led to “layers of ugliness” in the liturgy. I am referring, of course, to the masks, all of the hand sanitizing, the tape on the floor, the roped-off pews, the lack of singing, and the lack of a sign of peace. While the liturgy is still our greatest prayer and our most perfect encounter with the Lord, I think that all of us are anxious to return to the beauty of the liturgy prior to the pandemic. We continue to pray and fast, asking, “Lord, deliver us.”