Guest Post: Bernadette Harmon

The New Normal – First Public Mass

Along with so many others, I have been serving in a new way these last months. My heartfelt desire in offering the streaming of Masses and other events was to encourage the faithful to continue to gather in prayer even while separated, and to strive to grow in the life of prayer and greater intimacy with our Lord as we faced independent prayer in our homes. In our local parishes, it seemed more important than ever to keep the efforts at prayer and exercise of the sacraments alive, to prayerfully support one another while separated from our Pastor, Fr. Mark White.

church_drawingBut change is coming! We are stepping back into our churches, slowly, tentatively, and with continued restrictions. The absence of our Pastor leaves a void! Perhaps some cannot or do not want to face this reality, be it temporary or permanent. Perhaps others are hesitant due to the ongoing concerns related to the pandemic. Each person must discern for themselves what God is calling them to do. Thus, the importance of daily prayer. Without prayer, how can we discern God’s will for us?

Last weekend, I was able to take my father to the first public Mass since March. Attending Mass in a non-serving capacity, gave me an opportunity to be just a parishioner and to reflect on the past few months in a different light. I encourage anyone who serves to go to another parish from time to time to be Joe or Joan Parishioner!

This first step back into a public gathering may have seemed to some as directive and restrictive, even perhaps detracting from the Mass. But, on Sunday afternoon, May 24th, on the Ascension of the Lord, I happily embraced the conditions of attendance for the opportunity to gather with other Catholics in the celebration of this Holy Mass.

My father and I arrived early at the church, donning our masks, signing in and answering the questions about our health, being greeted with masked smiles, being ushered to a seat not of our choosing. We were separated from other worshipers and instead of singing the beautiful hymns and responses we had a chance to listen and pray as they were sung on our behalf. We received the Eucharist almost privately as we kept our distances from one another during the communion procession. The hardest part was being ushered out the door, for I would have loved to stay and allow the experience to wash over me once again in the presence of our Lord in the tabernacle!

I am so thankful to everyone who has worked so hard over these past months to keep the parishes running and the parishioners praying together, and for the diligence and care in seeing to our safety as we once again joined in public prayer! I am certain that the attendance will grow until our churches are once again filled with the hubbub of pre- and post-mass conversation, our children receiving instruction in the faith, little ones babbling, crying, playing in the pews, their parents distracted from Mass keeping their children in check, the single folk as well as younger and older couples finding their sense of community in the body of the faithful, and the elderly sometimes engaging in a light snooze… and together, all of us, across churches the world over, growing in communion with Christ and one another through the Eucharist!

In the meantime, the church continues to call us to participate in the prayers of the church. With a plethora of online venues, both professional and home grown, we all can and should pray every day, with one another (virtually), or independently, using the liturgy of the hours, praying devotions, and just taking precious moments here and there to turn our hearts and minds to God, to receive his healing touch and the consolation He offers, and to listen for his instruction.

Our faith is a blessing; our Lord is a fortress for us! He waits for us to place all our cares into his merciful hands!

God is good. All the time!

5 thoughts on “Guest Post: Bernadette Harmon

  1. Going back to Mass is wonderful, but I have to press my praying hands to my lips not to sing.

  2. I am so sad. I go to church to Glorify and Praise Jesus Christ. Whether Father Mark ( Whom I love with all my heart) or whoever is celebrating the Mass., Some are saying, I will not go as long as Father Mark is celebrating the Mass. I went home wondering what happened . So confused 😢

  3. Bernadette, very nicely written….thank you for sharing about this special time….glad your father could be there with you also. Blessings,
    Judy R.

  4. Not used to commenting. My previous comment, did not come out as what I meant to say…..Many are saying they will not return to Mass until Father Mark is the celebrant. 🙏🏻🙏🏻🙏🏻✝️✝️✝️
    I too cannot wait til this happens. I have often said that when Father Mark is celebrating the Mass, I can visualize Jesus there with him. I am standing with Father Mark and he knows this. But I believe Jesus wants me at His Mass. If I had my drouthers, Father Mark would be there 😢😢😢😭🙏🏻🙏🏻

  5. Thank you, Bernadette, for the creative ways you have made virtual communal prayer available to our faith community while we “stay safe at home.“ Our faith is Indeed a blessing. 🙏

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