Elizabeth Scalia offers a glimpse into the not-too-distant future, in her blog at Word on Fire:
If the given value of “normal” means fairly crowded pews, a sign of peace, and the physical reception of Holy Communion, we may see our worship remain somewhat “abnormal” for a while—perhaps until a viable and trustworthy vaccine has been developed. Bishops will have to wrestle with determining how best to offer the Eucharist to the faithful while social distancing, masks, and glove-wearing are still advised. Will church buildings be operating at “half capacity” to ensure such distancing? Such a move would require more Masses each Sunday (and more priests to cover them!), which simple demographics would make unlikely.
Might we have to content ourselves—as the faithful did in the Middle Ages—with a Liturgy of the Word, Adoration and Benediction replacing the Mass as a matter of obligation? We may have to brace ourselves for that possibility.
Mass concerns aside, how will confessions take place? Will priests and penitents be required to remain six feet apart? How does that ensure confidentiality within a Church setting? More likely we may have to, for a time, go through the trouble of making appointments with busy priests for a chance to confess our sins and receive absolution without a confessional screen but with a plexiglass barrier between us. It won’t feel nice, but if it gets the job done, we’ll adjust.
Might Baptisms, should the bishops decree, become something done at home, by parents themselves, if deacons or priests are unavailable? I know of one family who had that experience during this lockdown.
There is much to think about as the COVID-19 conversations begin to turn toward how we can live our faith beyond the live-stream offerings of the internet: how we may worship-as-community-while-social-distancing.
And there’s this:
Since the Acts of the Apostles, outreach to the world beyond the Church, even beyond the faithful, has been the Church’s great means of following Christ’s command to love others as ourselves. Indeed, many of our most beloved saints were more or less inventing the notion of “social services,” long before governments began to think about it. Our outreach in a time of physical risk, material need, and economic uncertainty will have to take many forms and will demand of our bishops (and most especially the laity who are the hands and feet of Christ) as many creative solutions and offerings as we can devise. Perhaps parishes with empty convents or permanently closed schools will find ways to (affordably) convert those structures into temporary or emergency housing, the cafeterias into working kitchens by which we may feed others.
Read it all. Soon enough, we may be living it.