So, let’s talk bathrooms! The parish now has a new bathroom in the St Joseph vestibule. This provides a family-friendly bathroom on that side of the church side without having to unlock the school partition doors. With C19 persisting and general requirements around school safety, it is not always possible nor advisable to unlock the school doors. The new bathroom will also provide better hospitality for occasions like weddings, funerals, and other liturgies during school times.
Second, speaking of bathrooms, we as a community could be a bit more conscientious on the timing of visits. At a recent Sunday Mass, I would conservatively estimate 10-15% of the community made a trip to the bathroom before, during, or just after during their visit to HF. I know this was out of the ordinary traffic; but generally, there are lots of trips. Before and after are fine, but the visits during the Mass are distracting, not just for me, but for the whole community. Particularly disruptive are the several occasions when folks get up and walk in front of the center aisle during the Scripture readings, the proclamation of the Gospel, the homily, and the Eucharistic Prayer. This is somewhat disrespectful to the Lord and the sacred actions taking place at those times. Preaching may look effortless, but when someone gets up and walks through, it is very hard to keep my own place in the homily as well as maintain the attention of the congregation. Please be considerate and aware.
Parents, I commend you for bringing your children to Mass. I know it’s a challenge; in fact, it’s the momentous challenge of parenting – the formation of your child in the ways of the Lord to be saints. Children quickly learn that if they ask to go the bathroom, we say yes. And so, if they are bored, distracted, want to go for a walk, they will ask about the bathroom. Holy Family School has Mass 3 times a week with 100 to 200 kids aged 5 to 14. We rarely have bathroom trips. They just know they need to wait. Some of those same children are then up and about on the weekends.
Obviously, I don’t want accidents or embarrassments, which is precisely why we have bathrooms. It’s why we added a new bathroom in the church. So if you must visit, then please wait for one of the natural minor “breaks” in the Liturgy, like when we sit down for the readings, during the offertory and preparation of the altar, or after Holy Communion. There is already movement in the assembly at those times, and it is less distracting.
I’m quite aware that these comments may come across as patronizing or disparaging. That is not my intent. As the pastor, it’s part of my responsibility and humble privilege to lead Sacred Liturgy. This sometimes requires setting expectations and reminding us what we are doing at Mass. Each of our actions at Mass impacts the overall whole. Hopefully, we all want our collective worship of God in the Mass to Glorify God and strengthen our faith. We do this as we are gathered together in prayer.
Holy Family, Present in Prayer, Pray for us.
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries