Been busy with church and elections work, so I haven’t been watching much news lately. Even church news. From Ireland, Fr Neil Xavier O’Donoghue discusses “Lockdown 2.0” at PrayTell.
Last March all public activities, including churches, closed down overnight and there was little room for preparing or reflection. … Now seven months later, we need to take stock and see how we can improve.
My parish still has most of its worshipers staying at home. Lots of elderly people, but families also. One drawback going back to limited-attendance Masses is that our livestream liturgy went from a handful of ministers in a church, including a more polished musical presentation, sometimes with a third person on an additional instrument.
Now, in church, there’s less music: at entrance, a psalm without an assembly refrain, a short piece at preparation, and then a Communion song as people exit. Parishioners have said “lockdown 1.0” was a better home experience; at least they could sing along on their couches. Or at the kitchen table or in the bedroom.
Thank goodness tonight’s Mass wasn’t on the web. It was truly a liturgy run off the rails. A simple dialogue litany of saints perked up the clergy and soon enough, the assembly was singing along. Our semi-retired priest got “inspired” to sing his usual pre-pandemic dialogues and even the Lord’s Prayer. Extended homilies too–and we were back to an hour-plus with only four pieces of music.
With elderly and families staying at home, I did think that one livestream would reach more people than our limit of fifty.
A number of commentators on PrayTell have already pointed out that the over-emphasis on the Eucharist has led to a lack of appreciation for other spiritual and prayerful practices. I wholeheartedly agree with this.
I agree with this too. The opportunity includes multiple options: the Hours, Liturgy of the Word, various devotions. Fr O’Donoghue mentioned “little room for preparing or reflection.” Well, we’ve had it. Maybe some of the critics of “over-emphasis on the Eucharist” haven’t explored a certain reflective preparedness for a future with extended stay-at-home.
For the record, I’m not a fan of “lockdown.” Over-emphasis on rebelling against authority? More accurately, trying to control a pandemic involves a locking out from large in-person gatherings. Troubling, yes, in the context of a faith that has relied largely on those gatherings.