The Post-Pandemic Mass

We have the Covid-19 quarantine Mass down to a science. Despite our extended family being spread across several houses, we can “attend’ Mass as a family, together. Here’s how.

My brother schedules a Zoom meeting and sends an email invitation to me and our mother, who lives on her own. We all log on at the appointed time and I open a pre-recorded Sunday Mass. I click “share my screen” and we can all see and hear the same Mass while, at the same time, we can see and hear each other.

But hopefully, this will come to an end. States are beginning to open up beaches and parks, some non-essential businesses are reopening and there is a strong desire to get life back to normal. But will we return to the pre-pandemic normal or will a new normal emerge—not only in cotidian life, but in liturgical life as well?

Here are a few topics I wonder about and I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Mass attendance

When the pandemic is over, do you think more or fewer people will attend Mass? Among the possible reasons for a decrease in Mass attendance:

  1. My family has developed a rhythm and pattern with the on-demand Masses that fulfills our spiritual need. We’re never late to church, can “attend” in our pajamas and we don’t have to muffle the screaming kids. If something comes up, I can always hit pause. We never realized that we really don’t need to attend Mass in person.
  2. I am scared of being infected with the coronavirus. I am an elderly person with medical conditions that put me at high risk for complications. Even though Mass is available, I’ll continue to watch it on TV and receive the Eucharist from an EMHC who visits my house wearing gloves and a mask.

However, Mass attendance may increase:

  1. Even though I didn’t go as regularly as I should, I never noticed how important Mass and the Eucharist was until it wasn’t available. I guess you don’t know what you have until it’s gone. I can’t wait to get back to Mass.
  2. If there’s one thing this pandemic has taught me is that life is fragile. Young and otherwise healthy people have died. I am not immortal and you never know “when it’s your turn”. I need to get my life right with God. I need to go to Mass.

Mass rubrics

When Mass is once again available to the faithful, how will it change?

  1. Will there be a separate Mass exclusively for those over 65 with preexisting health conditions?
  2. Will there be required temperature checks as you enter the church for admittance?
  3. Due to social distanced seating, will fewer people be allowed into the church before being turned away? 
  4. Perhaps because of the limited seating capacity, we will need to make reservation for Mass like we do at a restaurant? 
    Hello, can I make a reservation for four at the 10 AM Mass on Sunday?”
    “No, I’m sorry, that Mass has reached capacity, but we still have room at the 11:30. Should I put you down?
  5. Purell pumps next to the Holy Water dispensers.
  6. The ministers in the entrance procession will be 6’ apart.
  7. Episcopal gloves will become mandatory for all minsters.
  8. No more holding hands at the Our Father (finally!)
  9. The rite of peace will no longer have a sign of peace. And if it does, it will be waves and bows of the head.
  10. Pieces of tape on the floor will make sure individuals in the communion procession are 6 feet apart.
  11. Ordinary and extraordinary ministers of holy communion will wear masks, gloves and face shields in the proper liturgical color.
  12. It’s no longer up to the individual. Communion in the hand only.
  13. No more Precious Blood for the faithful.
  14. The priest will not shake hands after Mass. A fist bump. Maybe.

Some of the suggestions above are tongue-in-cheek and others I can see implemented. 

But after a vaccine is created and we develop herd immunity, will things go back exactly as they were before? Will 2020 just be a footnote in the history of the liturgy or will it merit its own chapter?

Will Mass attendance soar, plummet or remain the same? Once Mass is available, will there be changes? What are they? Will they be permanent? Will universal changes come from the Vatican? Will the Conference of Bishops implement national revisions? Will it be up to the bishops to decide what’s best for their diocese or will the local pastor make his own changes tailored to the demographics of his parish?

Share and let’s learn together!