As Mass (and mask) restrictions ease up, embrace the change

By Sue Kenfield 

Sue Kenfield, M.A., is a consultant, certified resilience specialist, and parishioner at St. Thomas More. 

Last week, the CDC changed their mask guidelines, and the Governor of Colorado lifted the mask mandate. Now many churches have also lifted their mask mandates and will lift other restrictions this Pentecost weekend.  People are asking, “How do I adapt to all the recent changes?” Moving forward through challenges is a hallmark of resiliency. 

These changes are cause for celebration for many and a cause of concern for others. As more restrictions start to lift, it may be challenging to shift your thought processes developed over the last 14 months. Keep in mind, the changes we are experiencing now have been unfolding over time with careful consideration and planning. If you are nervous about these changes, here are some suggestions.  

Change invites us to be more flexible in our thinking and our approach. Some of these changes may be confusing with all the information we have been inundated with the last year. Those who feel these changes are happening too fast may be feeling pushed out of their comfort zone. If you are one of those, take some time to recognize and honor how you are feeling. It is okay to be uncomfortable. Next, start to pivot to what you can do to feel comfortable while still attending Mass in person. It may be carrying your own hand sanitizer or wipes or sitting further away from people to start.  

All these changes may add to the uncertainty we have been living with since this time last year. Now is a time for faith and trust. It is also essential to recognize that we live with uncertainty every day. There are inherent risks in life. Do your best to mitigate the risks while also living a full life. Recall these words from Jeremiah, “’For I know the plans that I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11). 

Embrace change. It is part of the human dynamic to resist change partly because of our negativity bias; we view most change as unfavorable. Change is not all bad. Consider all the positive developments over the last year, such as the reality of therapeutics, vaccines, and the dropping COVID hospitalizations. Then consider the benefits of being able to gather in person again, at church, and beyond. God hard-wired us to connect in person, not through machines. That is how God made us all. Let us rejoice in his grace as he leads us forward.  

Other restrictions may soon disappear altogether. Implementing these steps will help you develop more resiliency, adjust to future changes, and ease your fears about returning to Mass and re-engaging with your community. “For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed” (Malachi 3:6). 

Featured image by David Ramirez on Unsplash

COMING UP: Tips from a fellow parishioner on returning to Mass

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By Sue Kenfield 
Sue Kenfield, M.A., is a consultant, certified resilience specialist, and parishioner at St. Thomas More, 

As we prepare for the lifting of the dispensation, many may be wrestling with coming back to in-person services. Strengthening your resilience is one way to move forward and embrace the opportunity to worship in person. It is also a way to overcome some fears you may have.  

One question coming up for some people is: With all the pews opening, how can I feel comfortable sitting in closer proximity to people?  

Understandably, people may be uncomfortable. We have all developed new habits following the COVID-19 restrictions. The good news is that some restrictions to worshiping in person are ending. Developing higher levels of resiliency will aid you in adapting to those changes.  

Fear is a powerful emotion to overcome and doing so requires developing a different perspective. What steps can you take if you are fearful?  

First, remember what the Lord repeatedly says, “Fear not for I am with you” (Isaiah 41:10). View returning to Mass as an opportunity to have your faith prevail over your fear. I have been attending Mass weekly during the last year without any adverse impact. Getting to share routinely in the Eucharist has been immensely helpful and healing during these trying times.  

Second, ask yourself, “Do I see things as they truly are, or as I fear them to be?” Look at objective data rather than what your emotions are telling you. Many churches in the archdiocese have had in-person services and have not had COVID outbreaks, indicating it is safe to worship in person. Where else have you shared space with others and have been okay?  

Third, build up more optimism. Optimism is the ability to look for the good and maintain a positive outlook, even in the face of adversity. It is another key to becoming more resilient and deepening your faith. Do you see challenging experiences as an opportunity to grow? Look at this opportunity as a chance to grow in your faith, trust in God, and reconnect with your faith community. 

Reengaging at in-person church services is an empowering step forward and will support strengthening your resiliency. Practice implementing these steps to help you build more resiliency and ease your fears about returning to Mass. “The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble. He cares for those who trust in him” (Nahum 1:7). 

Featured photo by Thomas Vitali on Unsplash