It has been two months since we have been able to fill the sanctuary pictured on the left above. Instead we have been experiencing worship through the app on the right. The Friars have made a Herculean effort to give us many opportunities to gather, just not in the same physical location. In addition to the Mass streamed daily, there are Zoom discussions of readings, Zoom gatherings for group spiritual direction, Zoom classes and Zoom lectio divina(a form of meditation.) The Religious Education team has provided weekly story time, many examples of activities to do activities at home, and shared photos of various families setting up their own spaces to worship.
I had never watched Mass on television, but since I know each of the Friars I am appreciating a chance to see and hear them. This past week they even added a trio of singers(spaced well apart), an organist and a piano. Since the services are recorded and then available on four platforms, I can watch later than they occurred, sometimes two in a row, a kind of Mass binge!
But anyone for whom church is an essential part of their life will understand what is missing. We used to play a finger game when I was a child. “Here is the church, Here is the steeple, Open up the church, And see all the people.” The people are missing. The laughs, the coughs, the rustling, the children squirming, the babies crying (Catholic services include all ages)are all absent. I miss the group of homeless folks, some inside, some outside the church. I miss shaking hands with the Friars and ministers after the service. I miss monthly coffee and doughnuts. I miss being missed when I am absent on a Sunday.
It will be a very long time until we can gather close together for an extended time in an enclosed space(all criteria for rapid spread of the virus.) In the meantime we are doing the best that we can. But I am not one of those who like Emily Dickinson could write, “Some keep the Sabbath going to church, I keep it, staying at home.” At least not for the long haul!