Masks are coming back to Mass - where do we draw the line?
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With the resurgence of COVID restrictions, masks are making a comeback at Mass, despite going away in many areas for a few weeks. Masks are unpopular with people unused to them, while many have lingering questions and doubts. But masks are not the only restriction that could be imposed. Here's what we need to consider.
Canon Law does not have rules regarding priests and masks while administering the Sacraments. However, there should be some limits observed when it comes to COVID restrictions.
LOS ANGELES, CA (California Network) - Nobody likes wearing masks, not even the people who advocate their use. There is a host of information that clearly demonstrates that masks help curtail the spread of infectious illnesses such as colds, the flu, and COVID. However, they are not foolproof, and there are also some studies which suggests masks are detrimental to a small degree, especially for children in school.
Masks work because they intercept the aerosols in which the COVID virus is suspended. The virus itself is so tiny, it can easily travel between the fibers of any mask, but that is not how it travels. It travels in droplets of vapor, which the masks are effective at blocking, although a little imperfect. They do make a significant difference and for this reason, it makes sense to use them on a short-term basis. Mass would certainly qualify.
But the mask mandates are not worth worrying about when compared to other possibilities, such as a complete shutdown of our churches. Should something like that be proposed, it should be bitterly opposed by the faithful.
The reason is simple. We have the freedom to worship. And since everyone now has the opportunity to get the vaccine, or not, a person's susceptibility to the virus is a matter of personal choice. Yes, there are exceptions, but in the main the choice to be vaccinated or not is now personal. It is a matter of individual freedom.
Therefore, Mass should not be canceled again in the name of COVID. Anyone who still worries can remain home, and the choice to do so is likely considered reasonable under Church teaching. Naturally, those who are immune-compromised, or live with someone who is high risk, should consider carefully all their activities outside the home, especially if they remain unvaccinated. While vaccinated people can themselves catch and transmit COVID (think of vaccines as training for the immune system, not a shield) their likelihood of developing symptoms and the chances of them spreading the virus are much less.
As Catholics, we should comply with reasonable public health mandates, but we have a moral obligation to resist unreasonable mandates. In the meantime, we can best serve our community and one another by cooperating with mask requirements, by social distancing and washing our hands. Avoid touching things we do not need to touch, perhaps bring your own missalette. Don't give others grief for their personal choices, and pray for an end to this plague upon the land, which is unlikely to pass until we learn as ancient Israel did to repent of our sins and turn back to the Lord.
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