THE overcrowding in churches in the last few days raises doubts about our capacity to keep our communities safe when quarantine restrictions end. But it also raises doubts about our understanding of authentic religion and our capacity to receive God’s grace.
The mayor suspended the requirement of quarantine passes to attend the traditional Misa de Gallo. Just because we all got free passes to attend mass doesn’t mean we should all go. In fact, the vast majority should have had the wisdom to stay home and hear mass online.
Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.
If you really feel you must go, why not choose to go only once to give others a chance? If everyone was generous enough to do this, more people would be able to attend the Misa de Gallo, more safely.
The elderly, the sick and the infirm also seek God or perhaps, seek Him more. But staying home because it is not safe to go to church does not disqualify us from seeking God’s blessing.
Let us not underestimate God’s capacity to grant us grace.
It makes no sense to troop en masse to church to show God our piety if doing so puts the health and safety of the more vulnerable members of our community at great risk.
Churches are doing all they can to comply with safety protocols. But safe distancing is difficult to enforce outside the church. This is why people should STOP attending mass “outside” the church. The fact that you are “outside” means that you can no longer be “safely accommodated inside.”
It is counterproductive to control the number of people inside the church if the number of people outside the church are allowed to swell and surge. You can’t keep the people inside safe even if they have strictly and safely distanced if you expose them to crowds when they step out.
Giant screens should NOT be installed outside venues for masses because this will only encourage people to converge. Church administrators cannot be expected to police their perimeters. And police resources are better spent on crime prevention rather than crowd control.
People who want to attend mass should learn to self-regulate. If the church is filled to capacity upon your arrival, please humbly (meaning without complaint) turn back and return home. God will appreciate your humility and magnanimity more than your attendance in church, under these circumstances.
God is accessible to all of us—wherever we are. We can seek His help, receive His grace, give Him thanks, anytime, anywhere. To support our churches, let us, instead, donate directly to our parishes and/or drop off Christmas care packages.
Sometimes, we attend the Misa de Gallo to redeem ourselves. This year, perhaps, we can redeem ourselves by changing our behavior, instead, to conform to the new normal.