Staycation Masses

by Loretta Fritz

It was such a strange experience to not be receiving my Lord and Lover in the Eucharist as the time for my Final Promises in Madonna House drew near. Fasting from Mass for three months earlier this year was strange, too. What really struck me as we returned to Mass in the parishes this summer was the incredible blessing of the Mass and the Eucharistic Presence.

At my first experience in a parish when the priest came to the congregation to distribute Communion (walking in the empty pews between parishioners), tears started to roll down my face. Jesus, in the priest and the ciborium, was coming to me! He was not even waiting for me to walk up to Him; He was so eager to come to me!

Moreover, it has been beautiful to have Jesus oh so carefully placed on my palm without any physical contact between me and the priest. That’s because it slowed the process down. I can see/sense/realize the immensity of this receiving so much better than previously when there was often a rush to get everyone through the communion line as fast as possible.

In the Archdiocese of Toronto, Mass is celebrated in 37 different languages each weekend. I find that to be one of the great gifts of an assignment to MH Toronto.

On the second week of my stay-at-home holidays (staycation), my main goal was to attend Mass at a different parish every day, preferably in another language or on the parish’s feast day. (My secondary goals for my holidays were lots of sci fi novels, a daily hot chocolate, and at least one excellent burger.)

God was good. I attended Mass at St. Michael’s Cathedral on the Feast of the Archangels. (That cathedral is so beautiful now that its renovations are done).

I went to St. Teresa’s in Etobicoke on October 1 for their feast day. The pastor there did a great job of celebrating the day within current distancing restrictions.

He borrowed a relic of St. Teresa from the Carmelites, and since the usual way of venerating relics was not possible, he processed around the church prior to Mass, blessing people with it at every pew. Then he celebrated a beautiful Mass with an organ and cantor and an excellent homily.

As a huge bonus, everyone was invited downstairs for a meal—(carefully set up according to all necessary social distancing/food distribution bylaws currently in place.) The slide show of St. Teresa was great!

Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish had a wonderful Saturday evening Spanish Mass with an exuberant yet prayerful music minister, who is a great tenor guitarist. I even recognized one of the songs and could partly mouth along, as we are not supposed to sing.

Sunday Mass at Holy Name Parish with the African community was awesome. They had a drum set, pianist, three or more percussion instruments and about ten singers—all carefully arranged ten feet or more apart in one side wing of the cruciform church. I also attended an Italian and a Maltese Mass and one more at a new-to-me church.

And now, what I did is no longer possible. As I prepared to send this article to Restoration, Toronto was moved into the COVID gray zone (highest alert), and churches were locked down once more. So we  are beginning Advent with another time of fasting from being physically present at Mass.