Below is the Letter of Father Fay being mailed to the Parish regarding the reopening of the church to the public celebration of the Eucharist.
May 18, 2020
Greetings Parishioners and Friends
The long awaited resumption of parish Mass at Saint Gabriel will take place on Monday, May 25th, Memorial Day.
It will not be a return to normal. In a sense we will have a new normal by gradually reintroducing our cherished customs over a period of time. There will have to be temporary adjustments. Everything will not be at once.
To abide by recommended distancing it will require limiting gatherings in church to smaller groups, which in turn led Archbishop Schnurr and the other Bishops of Ohio to suspend for a time the Church practice of directing us all to Sunday Mass attendance. Instead they extended the days of fulfilling our Mass obligation to all the seven days of the week. In this way by spreading our Eucharistic gatherings over several days smaller groups (50-70 at the most at Saint Gabriel’s) could be accommodated more safely in our church building and everyone would have the opportunity to worship God at the Table of the Lord once a week.
This slow approach can have its advantages. As we take our time we are less likely to invite the return of the pandemic, giving our medical community more time to make progress in care of the sick and in the discovery and manufacture of remedies.
This added time which God is giving us provides us with the opportunity to take a deeper look into our faith practices and come to understand better the reasons why we have these sacred traditions. Hopefully our faith will be stronger and deeper in this regard. It is a time of grace.
With guidelines from the Archdiocese to help us we want to say:
1) Our bishops have thought it best at this time to give us seven days for fulfilling our obligation to God to gather to worship him weekly. To follow health recommendations of distancing and thus having smaller groups at Mass at one time we shall change our Mass schedules for everyday of the week, including Sunday. For most of us this will mean selecting a day of the week other than Sunday for celebrating the Eucharist with God’s family.
Suspending the “Sunday” Mass obligation does not exempt us from the basic obligation God gave all of us to worship him in the midst of the Church on a frequent and regular basis. That is not up to us but to God. His commandment to worship him the way he wants is a blessing. We should be very familiar by now that our God is the Lord of all times and seasons of life. His surprises us, such as we have now, and calls us to be faithful to him in these different circumstances.
(You also know well that if you are coughing or sneezing or feel ill you should not come to church that day out of love and respect for others.)
Here are our temporary Mass times beginning May 25th.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday — 12:00 PM noon;
Tuesday, Thursday, Saturday — 8:00 AM;
Sunday — 5:00 PM Vigil on Saturday evening and 10:00 AM Sunday morning.
These times were chosen so that more people could find a convenient time to fulfill their obligation — e.g. noontime might be better for senior citizens and those at work could come during lunch break as they do on holydays; early risers might find the 8:00 AM more suitable for worship. Only one Mass on Sunday morning because we have to sanitize the church after each Mass (this includes wiping used surfaces and discarding any paper materials).
By each of us choosing a different day and time we will not jeopardize the health of others by too large a crowd and avoid having to limit the number of persons we can let into church.
2) The Mass will be simplified to start with. The whole order of service will be there from start to finish. Homilies may be more brief but not eliminated — the word of God elicits the faith we need to give thanks to God properly. Singing will be from printed worship aids instead of the hymnals. Some of the ministries, e.g. lectoring and serving, will initially be taken care of by the priest. Seating will follow the national recommendations of six feet apart (families can sit together) so every pew will not be able to be used. According to Archdiocesan Guidelines the faithful should be encouraged to wear a face mask. Likewise according to the Guidelines the distribution of Communion will be at this time under only one species (the bread form). Depending on the Spirit to guide me I probably will bring Communion to the pews (as I do at Maple Knoll and Glendale Place). Communion should be received in the hand to avoid any possibility of transmitting germs by saliva (personal preferences take second place here). Leaving church will have to be done by sections rather than having everyone crowd at the door. Boxes for collection will be at the entrances to church. These are some of the changes you will experience. Always keep in mind that we gather for worship and adoration of God. He is giving us a way to do that as the body of Christ that we are. We will always remember the sad days when this was not possible.
I wish to thank you all for your understanding and assistance to Saint Gabriel’s during what I call desert days. We have been able to hold our own. Those needs will continue. We will need small teams (perhaps about 4 persons) to sanitize the church after each Mass. Please contact the office and leave a message if you can help.
Your patience during these changing times will restore us more quickly to a deeper share in the mystery of Christ and the eternal salvation it brings. I will try to continue to offer frequent spiritual teaching on our website www.gabrielglendale.org. Keep in touch.
Thanks for your comments.
Father David Fay