It is so good to be back! After nearly three months since the suspension of public masses, we are glad to be back. It has been more than four weeks ago that our church reopened for public mass under strict health and safety guidelines. Many worried about social distancing and how people would behave. We discovered quickly that mass attendees have a deep respect for the well-being of others, erasing all worries about how to enforce the rules. People came with face masks, found a place in the church on their own with proper respect and distance. Families sat together with separation from others. At Communion time, from the first mass on people are coming forward by section with distance and proper face protection. If you are looking to witness Christian love, mass at your parish these days is a good place to find it.
This column is not to offer advice on any health issues or restatement of church and government guidelines. My words today are to share emotion—emotion of describing the joy of being back in church as a parish family. My wife, Frances and I participated in mass virtually through the stay-at-home time. After a while we even could feel some attraction to the convenience of sleeping in, making coffee, going to the couch and turning the TV on for mass. Living 16 miles from church, this lack of commute to mass was nice. We even started to enjoy choice: mass at the diocese at eight, our parish at nine with even more to choose from. Much to my surprise this convenience started to be an attractive habit. With that habit, going back to the old routine of getting up early then a 30-minute drive seemed like work. The discovery: two months is long enough to reshape habits. We were taken in by convenience.
What we did not expect is how good it feels to be back in church. Even though the Bishop has given permission to delay coming back and our maturity earns us the title of “vulnerable,” we are so glad to be back at mass in person. The mass now seems different, more personal and special. We missed it more than we thought. Breaking the habit of convenience from recent months was liberating. If you’ve been away, when you are ready, welcome home! You’ll be amazed how good it feels.

Deacon Jim Krupka