18 June 2020, The Tablet

Worship beyond lockdown – how much does Mass matter?

Coronavirus pandemic

Worship beyond lockdown – how much does Mass matter?

A worker disinfects before Mass at Rome’s Basilica of Santa Maria in Campitelli
Photo: CNS, Stefano Dal Pozzolo


The churches are open for private prayer, and public Masses will soon resume. But for many Catholics, the lockdown has taught them new ways of living their faith

This week, for the first time in months, Catholics in England ventured across the threshold of their churches. It was really only a tiptoe, a peek around the door after months of being locked out. There was no gathering for Mass, no congregating for the Rosary, no joining together for vespers. But it was at least a start, to see again the familiar statues of the Virgin Mary and the Sacred Heart, to pray in thanks before the Blessed Sacrament, and to remember those who have died. People are back in the familiar places that they have only been able to see via live-streamed Mass, though now as they enter the church, rather than crossing themselves with holy water, they must dab their hands with sanitiser.

For many people, lockdown has meant a moment to think again about how one prays, why one attends Mass, why people feel the need to be in what is often called a sacred space. After all, God is everywhere. Why does the church building matter so much?

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