I had an appointment with my GP during the week, a funeral ran a bit overtime, and I had to rush to make it even close to the right time. As I stepped into reception a little flustered, thinking about my excuse, I heard a voice say in a loud and stern tone, “Mask!” I hadn’t heard the word, expressed like that, since the early days of Covid when it was still a novelty to wear a face covering. Now at the other end of Covid masks are expected in fewer places. In a mild panic I patted my pockets, hoping that somewhere I might find one folded away, forgotten, but alas, I had to admit I didn’t have one with me. So that feeling of being late and unmasked felt very uncomfortable, and I had to ask for one, rather sheepishly. My discomfort didn’t disappear immediately as the receptionist handed me a white mask, it didn’t have the customary elastic for fixing behind the ears, but rather dangling white ribbons that needed to be pulled around the ears and tied, something best done by your mum while standing still. So, I fumbled and eventually secured the mask and the heart rate recovered and all was well. I was glad the GP didn’t want to take my blood pressure!
This made me think that it might soon be time to say something about mask-wearing in the church. Obviously, people are free to make their own decision, I notice that the regular mass goers mostly are still masked and the people attending funerals and First Holy Communions don’t wear one. So perhaps some people feel vulnerable, and others think it is expected and others are comfortable. As we try to encourage people back to Sunday Mass it is important that the environment in the church is safe and supportive of the elderly, the sick and the vulnerable. For anyone who is a bit nervous I would suggest that they sit in the front section of the church where there is usually a lot of space. Hopefully, we will soon be free of all the remaining restrictions and can enjoy responding to the prayers, singing and joyfully giving praise to God together.