Tips from a fellow parishioner on returning to Mass

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

COMING UP: Q&A: USCCB clarifies intent behind bishops’ Eucharist document

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Last week, the U.S. bishop concluded their annual Spring meeting, during which much about the Church in the U.S was discussed. In particular, the bishops voted to draft a document on the meaning of Eucharistic life in the Church, which was approved by an overwhelming majority.

Since then, speculation about the nature of the document has run rampant, the chief of which is that it was drafted specifically to instigate a policy aimed directly at Catholic politicians and public figures whose outward political expressions and policy enactment do not align with Church teaching.

The USCCB has issued a brief Q&A clarifying the intent of the document, and they have emphasized that “the question of whether or not to deny any individual or groups Holy Communion was not on the ballot.”

“The Eucharist is the source and summit of Christian life,” the USCCB said. “The importance of nurturing an ever
deeper understanding of the beauty and mystery of the Eucharist in our lives is not a new topic for the bishops. The document being drafted is not meant to be disciplinary in nature, nor is it targeted at any one individual or class of persons. It will include a section on the Church’s teaching on the responsibility of every Catholic, including bishops, to live in accordance with the truth, goodness and beauty of the Eucharist we celebrate.”

Below are a few commonly asked questions about last week’s meeting and the document on the Eucharist.

Why are the bishops doing this now?

For some time now, a major concern of the bishops has been the declining belief and understanding of the Eucharist among the Catholic faithful. This was a deep enough concern that the theme of the bishops’ strategic plan for 2021-2024 is Created Anew by the Body and Blood of Christ: Source of Our Healing and Hope. This important document on the Eucharist will serve as a foundation for the multi-year Eucharistic Revival Project, a major national effort to reignite Eucharistic faith in our country. It was clear from the intensity and passion expressed in the individual interventions made by the bishops during last week’s meeting that each bishop deeply loves the Eucharist.

Did the bishops vote to ban politicians from receiving Holy Communion?

No, this was not up for vote or debate. The bishops made no decision about barring anyone from receiving Holy Communion. Each Catholic — regardless of whether they hold public office or not — is called to continual conversion, and the U.S. bishops have repeatedly emphasized the obligation of all Catholics to support human life and dignity and other fundamental principles of Catholic moral and social teaching.

Are the bishops going to issue a national policy on withholding Communion from politicians?

No. There will be no national policy on withholding Communion from politicians. The intent is to present a clear understanding of the Church’s teachings to bring heightened awareness among the faithful of how the Eucharist can transform our lives and bring us closer to our creator and the life he wants for us.

Did the Vatican tell the bishops not to move forward on drafting the document?

No. The Holy See did encourage the bishops to engage in dialogue and broad consultation. Last week’s meeting was the first part of that process. It is important to note that collaboration and consultation among the bishops will be key in the drafting of this document.

Featured photo by Eric Mok on Unsplash