As I read more and more articles like this one about the return to Mass and even contemplate what my parish is doing, I can’t help but compare now to before. My parish went back to Mass a few weeks ago, we’re in North Carolina as your point of reference. The first week it was outside. 35 households were allowed to sign up for each Mass time. We brought our own chairs, kneeling pads, and worship aids (either printed or pulled up on our phones). The courtyard was divided into squares via tape. It was weird, but amazing.
Beginning with Daily Mass that week, we are inside the Church. Every other pew is marked off, people are encouraged to be at least six feet apart, to park in every other parking spot, to sanitize their seat before and after, and more. It’s very different. I know you all are experiencing the same thing at your parishes, if you’re able to go back to Mass yet. If you aren’t back at Mass yet, I’d encourage you to look to what other parishes are doing around the country and be prepared.
We still need to sign up for our Mass times, 50 households per Mass this week. As I was reflecting on this last night, I couldn’t help but compare to before. That thought brought me to the quote from Theodore Roosevelt, “Comparison is the Thief of Joy.”
We let comparison get the best of us a lot in the Church, even while saying it’s not part of our lives. We compare our priest to other priests, our diocese to what others are doing, our new pastor to our previous pastor. None of it is productive. As I find myself comparing today’s Mass experience to March 13th’s Mass experience (the last day I attended Mass before this all began), I can be sad, longing for what once was, rather than be joyful that I am able to be back.
The first week being back to Mass can feel like a novelty, maybe even the first few weeks. It’s important for us to remember the longing we’ve had for the Sacraments when the thief of comparison tries to join us.