Despite the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, churches and other houses of worship are doing everything within their power to continue to ensure that their flock are able to be welcomed despite social distancing, and allowed to embrace the light of God even in these difficult times.
While churches have had to go a non-traditional route with certain services, parishes are working hard to make sure everything from sacraments to services are able to be carried out while still in accordance with COVID-19 protocols at the local, state, and federal levels.
Mass and Holiday Services
While regulations from the CDC have cracked down just how many worshippers can be in the pews on Sunday, churches across the United States are still carrying out masses to the best of their abilities with socially distanced seating and staggered start times for services to allow some separation. This methodology has been carried into the Christmas season.
Services continue for Advent, the observance and waiting for the arrival of the newborn Jesus Christ, leading up to Christmas day. Parishioners can still expect the lighting of the weekly Advent candle. The first candle on the Advent wreath is lit as a symbol to start of this liturgical season, with each candle started for each week leading up. Wreaths can vary to include white candles to represent each Sunday in the Advent season, with smaller candles in liturgical color to represent the days during the week of Advent.
Depending on location, the CDC and other local health officials and caregivers have suggested carrying out mass and services outside of the church to combat the spread of the Coronavirus.
Churches have worked to get creative with celebration of the sacraments, despite restrictions brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Baptisms are still being carried out across the United States to welcome infants into Christ’s love. These services are conducted with consideration for just how many family members can be welcomed into the church during this time.
Some parishes have restricted onlookers to the parents of the infant being baptized, as well as the godparents. Depending on the locale, other family members within households can be considered like grandparents. However, it is worth noting that older people have been deemed as greater risk of contracting the coronavirus and have less treatment options available to them if their screening tests comes back with a positive result for the coronavirus.
During these trying times, we find ourselves looking for guidance from the church, and the ability to have difficult conversations regarding our struggles. Whether it is worrisome financial matters brought on by this pandemic or maybe a diagnosis or common health issues for men, believers seek the counseling of their priest or reverend to put them at ease and feeling they are in God’s light and protected. These people of the cloth are often important advisors in a religious person’s life.
Some church officials have adapted by keeping meetings private, but socially distanced, while others have opted the route many of us have taken and gone virtual for face-to-face meetings with parishioners. This continues for the sacrament of penance, confessing your sins from afar, vowing repentance, and seeking forgiveness in the eyes of the Lord while maintaining good health conditions.
Much like the other sacraments, weddings are being adapted to allow a select few family members in the church to celebrate holy matrimony. Churches have recommended that young adults be most prevalent among guests, as there is the risk factor among older people in relation to COVID-19. This includes any family members with chronic illness that may also be at risk.
Be sure to consider health problems for each of your intended guests before the date of your wedding. When it comes to meetings with a priest or reverend prior to this celebration of marriage, church officials are relying on Zoom and other virtual chat spaces to discuss things like Christ’s place in love, and family planning tips for older parents while taking necessary precautions. The same outlets can be relied on to allow other family members to be able to witness the ceremony.