Diocese of Fort Worth, TX issues guidelines for resuming public Masses
  • MarkB
    Posts: 325
    For a preview of what the initial phase-in of resuming public Masses might entail in your diocese, read the attached guidelines and accompanying diagrams issued on April 29 by the bishop of the Diocese of Fort Worth, TX, which will resume public Masses the weekend of May 2/3.

    Summary of the letter:

    1. All faithful are still dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass, even though Mass will be celebrated publicly again.
    2. People over age 60 are asked not to attend Mass unless a special Mass is offered only for those aged 60+.
    3. People who do attend Mass must wear masks or scarves.
    4. The maximum number of people that may attend a public Mass will vary in each parish because it will depend on how many people can be fit in the pews while spacing them all six feet apart. See the diagram for an illustration.
    5. Families may sit together, but there must be six feet of distance between them and non-family Mass attendees.
    6. When a Mass reaches max capacity, no one else will be admitted.
    7. Please do not receive Communion on the tongue.
    8. At the end of Mass people will be dismissed by pews in an orderly manner to continue observing social distancing.
    9. The church will be sanitized between Masses.
    10. Hymnals and other worship aids should not be present for people to touch or use during the initial phase of resuming public Masses.
    11. The same protocols are to be observed for weddings and funerals.

    According to the diagrams, it appears churches will be restricted to 40% capacity, if that.
    Thanked by 1Joseph Michael
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,914
    Simple arithmetic is pretty much irrelevant here. As a mathematician, I am well used to the idiot over-simplifications common in mathematical models. People are not static points, they are a couple of feet wide, and when in pews they may be sitting back or kneeling forward. So I need 8 feet laterally, and 9 feet fore and aft, twice the 36 sq.ft. of the over-simplification. And then you need to fit these 72 sq.ft. rectangles so that there is a seat in the middle of each one, or if you have a couple 90 sq.ft..
    This is a practical problem, not one for abstraction. I suspect very few churches will achieve 20% of comfortable capacity.
    OTOH if your congregation is large TLM families who can each fill a pew, you put them in alternate pews (ban the elderly widowers, like me, who would block off large areas) and achieve 50% capacity.
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • The good news is that the ice is beginning to crack: the public celebration of Mass is back.

    The bishop also allows packed parking lots.

    Hawkins,

    Given that the bishop already urges the over-60 crowd to stay home, if you're an "elderly" person, widower or not, you would be expected not to go to Mass. In some parishes, the buildings will remain mostly empty because of the 60+ rule.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,809
    Our over-60's would come even if the bishop told them not to. My parents (over 70 and in the high risk group) are still out and about visiting friends and family.
    Thanked by 2CCooze dad29
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,914
    I see the German government quoted as requiring no more than 1 person for every 10 sq.m. (108 sq.ft.) in mosques (which have no pews to complicate spacing).
    https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/apr/29/germany-to-set-out-rules-for-religious-services-including-singing-ban
    Thanked by 1Elmar
  • bhcordovabhcordova
    Posts: 814
    In the Diocese of Tyler, our bishop has issued guidelines for reopening. Mass attendance is still not required. Communion in the hand only. Every other pew roped off. Social distancing between households required. Maintain social distancing between families.
  • A common thread in everything I'm seeing is no hymnals or service leaflets. That means (initial thoughts):

    1 - Congregational Ordinary, and specialist propers (presumably at least small scholae will be ok if there is space, or at least a cantor singing propers).

    2 - The return of the Organ Mass (congregational ordinary and responses, but introit offertory and communion are all organ-based). Time to dust off our improvisation chops!

    Maybe the only force strong enough to weaken our dependence on hymns is this pandemic...
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,014
    I imagine preceptual attendance at Mass is going to be proactively dispensed for the foreseeable future, and a broader understanding of passive dispensation (not just by active illness but by risk factors making one vulnerable to illness) obtaining thereafter.
  • Elmar
    Posts: 226
    I don't know what the effect of differences between dioceses in the US is; here an example from the other side of the big pond.

    Basilica of Kevelaer (Marian pilgrimage site in Germany, nominal capacity of 900 or so) will admit 150 to the season-opening mass tomorrow, May 1st, originally planned without the faithful. Most parish churches will start on Sunday 3rd (or 10th). Hygiene concept of the diocese of Münster seems pretty good and in line with 'state' regulations of NRW (Germany).

    BUT:
    Kevelaer lies 3 miles off the border to the Netherlands, to which it has close ties, and usually receives some 10s of 1000s of pilgrims per year (out of the total of 800,000).
    In the Netherlands all public Masses had been canceled until Pentecost, that won't change probably - if it isn't even extended. The border is essentially open, except that private traffic is strongly discouraged (as is long-distance domestic traffic in both countries).

    Nobody has thougt about this apparent problem! I checked it out by myself e-mailing several instances. Finally the resposible person in the diocese gave me a phone call (OK, that's great in principle) only to tell me that they knew what they were doing under their regulations - which is obviously true - and that the Dutch could get all their relevant information from Kevelaer's website - which is not true at all + that only the German version is up-to-date. Finally they told me to mind my own business, i.e. to brief our pilgrim organizations here in the Netherlands by myself if I thought it was necessary.

    Now I'm praying that as few as possible people find out that they could go to Mass in their favorite pilgrim basilica, and that those who do, are responsible - and otherwise just lasy - and stay at home and watch live-streams.
  • bangerman
    Posts: 29
    Maybe the only force strong enough to weaken our dependence on hymns is this pandemic...


    I don’t think any of these places where the hymnody is so ingrained would be willing to give it up so easily, so I’m afraid this will go in a completely different direction and usher in the installation of more large screens in sanctuaries in lieu of printed leaflets. And it wouldn’t surprise me during this re-opening period if we see encouragement from various parishes for people to print their leaflet at home or even to bring their own device to view them on during mass.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 862
    "Please do not receive Communion on the tongue."

    Well, at least he seems to be aware that he can't order people to only receive in the hand.
    Our bishop still hasn't figured that out, and still quotes the same part of canon law as though it's his golden ticket to doing whatever he wants.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,809
    One of our priests is a medical doctor, quite experienced (neurosurgeon?), was a late vocation, he is quite happy to give only on the tongue.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 325
    This is the bishop's full explanation of his request that communicants not receive on the tongue at this time. I think it's an entirely reasonable request made with great respect by the bishop, and a reasonable and charitable person would abide by it instead of selfishly insisting on "rights" or whatever.

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    Thanked by 3Elmar mattebery JL
  • Kathy
    Posts: 5,172
    I feel some consideration should be given to the transmission potential of congregational speaking and singing http://www.chantcafe.com/2020/04/silent-presence/

    And for that matter choirs.
    Thanked by 1CHGiffen
  • I have a proposal so that we don't abandon the "custom" of receiving on the tongue: make spiritual communions.
    Thanked by 1StimsonInRehab
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 163
    In the EF, communion in the hand isn’t an option, so for those who attend the EF, we’re not going to be able to receive for a long time (or our Masses will be suspended again like they were with H1N1). I wonder what the Eastern Rites are doing.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CCooze
  • Sponsa Christi,

    You raise a good point: most of the time, these directives assume the option to do either, and the suppression of lingual reception because of .... [whatever], but there's no option to suppress in the EF, since manual reception isn't possible.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 862
    In the EF, Communion in the hand isn’t an option


    My bishop responds, "that's their choice."
    It's infuriating.
  • Corinne,

    Hypothetically speaking, if your pastor were to read the Bishop's instructions and construe it to mean "Whenever it's optional, I want you to receive in the hand", and again, hypothetically, to conclude that it's not optional in the EF, and so the rest of the sentence didn't apply, might, hypothetically, your pastor be brave enough to give the faithful Our Lord on their tongues?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,890
    In some parishes, the buildings will remain mostly empty because of the 60+ rule.


    Yes. And collection plates will be quite bare, too.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 862
    CGZ, my pastor is actually a Canon lawyer.
    He knows what from our bishop's mandates are and are not enforceable. Elaborating further would probably not help him nor we (especially the traditionally-minded) lay faithful.
    However, the fact that our bishop still says these things, and hasn't been corrected well enough (at least by someone he deems worthy of listening to) to stop saying them, is still infuriating.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw chonak
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,890
    Yah, well, the Milwaukee Archdiocese is headed by a Canon lawyer, and a local parish is headed by a Canon lawyer too, and both maintain the fiction......

    Oh, well.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 515
    I think it's quite reasonable to obey the request by receiving a spiritual Communion rather than receiving in the hand, which is what I intend to do upon returning to public Masses.
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 862
    Canon lawyer too...

    It's absurd.

    spiritual Communion

    I agree that it's reasonable to request people make spiritual Communion, for the general welfare of all present, but to say that they are may receive in the hand, but are not "allowed" to receive Communion on the tongue is insane.

    I have nothing against the idea of all public "phase-in" Masses being Latin Low Masses, to avoid instances of projectile "particles," any type of hand-holding, or even a lack of reception of Communion.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw CHGiffen
  • Earl_GreyEarl_Grey
    Posts: 824
    Well I'm curious about the requirement of wearing masks in church/public. One can't really sing (well) wearing a mask. On the other hand, you might want to invest in the "Beltbox" for your choir. It may even help with blending and pianissimo.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,890
    MIlwaukee issued similar "Directives" and "Suggestions" for resuming public Masses on May 31, Pentecost. Looks like USCC/B conjured up a template that we'll see all over the country.
    Thanked by 2CCooze tomjaw
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,494
    Looks like East Tennessee will be returning to public masses on Pentecost. Works for me since that is the name day of the parish. Need to start practicing since I haven't touched the organ since the pandemic began.

    Communion in the hand: This has become the "pro multis" of the extremists since the 2010 missal translation took away their basis to complain about "for all." They seem to ignore that it was the norm for around 400 years before communion on the tongue was instituted. I suspect the breads were probably not nice round hosts before that time, either. I strongly suspect the state of one's soul, reverence for the sacrament, and interior disposition are much more important than whether communion is in the hand or on the tongue. We easterners avoid the whole problem by doing intinction where the sacrament is not touched by any member of the laity. I have thought the west should adopt that practice, as well. It is more authentic.

    All this reminds me of the toddler who pitches a fit because his peas are touching his macaroni, thus rendering both inedible.

    Has anyone considered being grateful for being able to receive communion at all?
    Thanked by 2JL Elmar
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,494
    I think highly of Cardinal Sarah and have read his books. He is, however, stuck in a Renaissance mindset and goes off the deep end on liturgy. I wouldn't mind if he advocated restoring something approximating the liturgy of the early centuries but the liturgical practices he sometimes advocates are neither original nor authentic. Five hundred year old practices from the high Renaissance that were an over-reaction to Protestantism do not authenticity make. Much of what is looked on as Tradition isn't.

    A dear friend harps on particles that fall from the hosts and the sacrilege that ensues. The way those hosts are made, you might get some particles if you chip away at the edges of them with mallet and chisel. They hold together pretty well. Christ knew all the issues that could result from the medium he chose for the sacrament. In earlier times when they didn't use modern hosts and even used loaves of bread, there would have been more particles than anyone could estimate.

    Live streaming of masses: Yeah, I am not crazy about them, either. I watched the dueling vibratos from the local cathedral for the reconsecration yesterday. I finally couldn't stand the Gatling gun soprano vibrato any longer. I switched to St. Pat's NY and watched a bigger than life Wagnerian soprano belt out "Immaculate Mary." I expected Valkyries to swoop around the sanctuary. Only the Viking horns were missing. I am completely over the live streams. In fairness, maybe you just have to be there in person to appreciate them.

    I will say again, that we should all be grateful for masses and communion. In many parts of the world, Christians would consider themselves greatly blessed to have what we take for granted.

    Postscript: Now I am hearing that there is some discussion about whether or not to allow choirs or congregational singing at the masses when they resume. I guess those breathy altos could spread some germs if they were so minded. LOL.
    Thanked by 3MarkB Liam Elmar
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 163
    They seem to ignore that it was the norm for around 400 years before communion on the tongue was instituted.

    It’s well-documented in Church history that “communion on the hand” wasn’t directly on the hand. Each communicant had a special cloth that was placed over the hand which the Blessed Sacrament was placed, and the communicant brought his or her face down to it and received that way. This prevented the loss of crumbs (it’s also where the housling cloth originated).

    As for particles lost from hosts, I can attest to seeing large particles that fall from the host onto the paten that the altar boy holds under one’s chin (our Mass happens so late in the day that the sun’s placement in the sky illuminates the particles quite well). There have also been numerous tests done with non-consecrated hosts that prove that particles are lost from even those small hosts.
    Thanked by 3tomjaw dad29 CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,494
    I would question some of that documentation as wishful thinking from a later time. In the really early days the Eucharist was consumed at house churches from loaves. Even in early churches, it wasn't unusual for people to take some of it home for consumption later.

    Particles: Scrupulosity run amok. Better be sure to kiss that rosary you dropped on the floor. Otherwise, God may kill you and generations of nuns will torment your sleep for years to come.
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 163
    CharlesW,

    Just because it was done in the early Church doesn’t mean it was the best way of doing things. They also used to circumcise males in the Early Church. Should we bring that back as well?
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,494
    No, we don't need any more added rites. We need to do the ones we have better before originating more. Wonder what kind of chant would be sung for circumcisions? Males only, screechy sopranos not allowed? Probably would have to be done in Canada since most males are circumcised in the U.S.

    My point is that much of what we accept as "history" was written after the Scholastics did a number on Christianity. What they didn't mangle, post-Trent theologians did.

    Back to this. Too many interruptions today. Having been through if not a less enlightened time, certainly a less educated time, superstition and rather nonsensical practices crept into the church. I remember performing certain actions to get 1 day, 2 hours, and 13 minutes removed from time in Purgatory. I also remember priests anointing babies with saliva during the old baptismal rites - pretty unsanitary in our own times. I am glad the post-Vatican II church has done away with some of the practices that had become ridiculous and made the church a laughingstock. Just because something was done after Trent in the Latin church, doesn't mean it has any validity today.
  • MarkB
    Posts: 325
    I've noticed that it has now become required for a traditionalist Catholic to oppose and speak out against receiving Communion in the hand as a sacrilege in order to prove his bona-fides. The Burkeians and Schneiderians are falling in line on that issue. The most ridiculous claims I've read say that the coronavirus is a chastisement for receiving Communion in the hand and that there's no difference between receiving Communion in the hand and what satanists do, other than intent or ignorance.
  • dad29
    Posts: 1,890
    Wait a bit and Charles will come up with The Better (Eastern) Way.

    Just because it was done in the early Church doesn’t mean it was the best way of doing things.


    Yup. It's the condemned "antiquarianism" which--by the way--was a big part of the Bugnini palette. Wrong then, wrong now.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,494
    I try not to pray or receive communion with heathens.

    One of the saints actually warned against that. I wonder why some of the Trads get their shorts in knots over some things that are not essential. It might be good to distinguish between the two.

    I have yet to figure out Bugnini. That guy should have been run out of town.
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 515
    Communion in the hand is a licit, but clearly inferior option. My view is that the same health concerns that make lingual Communion undesirable at this time are equally applicable (if not more so) to Communion on the hand. The pragmatic approach for those uncomfortable with it is to stick to spiritual Communion until the pandemic has cleared.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,494
    Bingo!
  • CCoozeCCooze
    Posts: 862
    So, the fact that there's a paper somewhere mentioning something means that it was "the norm" for that long?
    Conversely, no one cares that it was very decidedly, in an official capacity, condemned as a heresy?

    You are going to quote some sort of tradition and pretend that a much longer tradition doesn't matter? The Catholic Church has been around for 2000 years, but a supposed approximately 400+50 of them are the ones that matter?

    Please.

    I don't really want to get into arguments. I don't care that you think the Roman rite isn't as good or efficient at receiving Communion as is the Eastern rite (of which I still think is better than reception in the hand).
    The fact of the matter is that the documents referenced saying that people cannot be refused to receive Communion on the tongue are still in effect, and, as the Cardinal stated, cannot be superseded by some (scientifically unsubstantiated) personal preference by local bishops.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,494
    No one said eastern practices are better, I noted that intinction might be better for the west as well. No one but the priest handles the sacrament east or west because it is forbidden when intinction is the method for distributing communion.

    Now where did you find that priest and bishop who would give you communion on the tongue? Inquiring minds want to know?

    I haven't received communion since the lock-down began. I am fine with that if it keeps the body count down. This too shall pass.
  • CatherineS
    Posts: 448
    I anticipate that here in Brazil there will be no more Communion on the tongue ever again, except at 'private' (non-parish) Masses (such as those held in the chapels of congregations, associations, confraternities, etc where they can have their own customs, and any public who shows up are people who like things that way). That, and the traditionalists. In those contexts, if Communion on the tongue is deemed (politically) problematic for some reason they will simply switch to private Communion outside of Mass, such as when people come in for Confession, and thus avoid provoking whoever is hassling them.

    The fact is what is permitted (or required) on paper and what is permitted in the complex reality of Reality are often not very close to each other. Or, how much torment one is willing to bear to make a point is often a factor. I'm as guilty as any - how often do I compromise on some point to try to cope with the circumstances?
  • SponsaChristi
    Posts: 163
    Intinction in the west is an option in the GIRM (and practices by those part of the Anglican Use Ordinariate outside of Canada). It’s not permitted in Canada by the bishops because a) it means EMHC cannot distribute communion, and b) communion can only be received on the tongue and not in the hand.
  • Ronn62353
    Posts: 7
    I very rarely chime in on such conversations, but I find it simply incredible that some folks seem to maintain a refusal to receive communion in the hand and replace it with a "spiritual communion" as a positive value. To go without the Eucharist to rigidly maintain a practice that is only one of the options for the reception of communion seems to my mind to be missing the point entirely.
    Thanked by 1CharlesW
  • Schönbergian
    Posts: 515
    Ronn, if there exists a legitimate health reason not to receive communion lingually, I would have the same reservations about receiving on the hand - if not moreso. Before public Masses were discontinued but during public concern about the virus, I continued to receive lingually because of its elimination of one more possible vector for infection. If even that has become unsafe, I fail to see how receiving on the hand makes it any better.
  • tomjaw
    Posts: 1,809
    The medical advice here in England is very clear, do not touch your face particularly your mouth... So logically Communion in the hand is out. After our Archbishop tried to ban communion on the tongue, he was persuaded to change his mind, thanks to expert advice from medical professionals, and Canon lawyers.
    It has been pointed out that communion in the hand usually involves hand to hand contact, while communion on the tongue rarely involves the priest touching the tongue.

    Any ideas that involve hand sanitising for the congregation before communion during Mass are disruptive and irreverent.
    We should also note that General Communion as part of Mass is a recent (re-) introduction, 150 + years ago we would not have had this problem.

    Over here the bishops are now regretting shutting down our Masses and churches, and are engaging with the Government to get things opened. I suspect money rather than anything to do with devotion is the main driving force (I am told a few bank accounts are empty). It remains to be seen what hoops will need to be jumped through, but I can't see the Sunday Mass obligation to be put back into force anytime soon. With only those that are not worried about the virus going to Mass it will make things easier.
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,494
    We will be starting public masses on Pentecost. No word yet on any differences related to communion. Everyone is learning as this develops and no one has all the answers at this time. Money is a big factor. My parish has gone to online giving but I don't know how well that is succeeding.

    We should also note that General Communion as part of Mass is a recent (re-) introduction, 150 + years ago we would not have had this problem.


    True. Frequent communion was not the norm for centuries and is a recent practice.
    Thanked by 1tomjaw
  • a_f_hawkins
    Posts: 1,914
    True. Frequent communion was not the norm for centuries and is a recent practice.
    OTOH the Council of Trent thought it desireable!
    Session XXII chapter 6.
    The sacred and holy synod would wish indeed that, at each mass, the faithful who are present should communicate, not only in spiritual desire, but also by the sacramental participation of the Eucharist, that thereby a more abundant fruit of this most holy sacrifice might be derived unto them: but nevertheless, if this be not always done, ...
    Some may regard Trent as recent.
  • Liam
    Posts: 4,014
    Yes, and it took centuries before Pius X implemented Trent in that regard, and it was expressly as an implementation of Trent!
    Thanked by 2CharlesW CHGiffen
  • CharlesW
    Posts: 10,494
    Trent is an interesting situation. It met for 18 years, not continuously, was abandoned and everyone went home, reconvened, and on an on. For those who think Vatican II was a mess, just go back and read about Trent. There was an earlier council that was supposed to deal with Protestantism and it made a complete hash of it. Finally Trent did do that. I also hear that Trent forbade reading scripture. Not so. Trent forbade unauthorized versions of scripture that had not been verified and approved for accuracy. Councils can sometimes create more problems than they solve.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw teachermom24
  • Charles,

    Would you accept two different statements: 1) that the historical circumstances of Trent were "interesting" as you put it, but that 2) its doctrinal proclamations are solid.
    Thanked by 2tomjaw dad29