Tista' taqra bil- Malti.
Lay people and clergy alike had reason to celebrate this weekend as churches across the country reopened their doors for mass, three months after the Covid-19 pandemic had forced their closure.
“It was an emotional experience,” Auxiliary Bishop of Malta Joseph Galea-Curmi said after celebrating mass in the Balzan parish church this weekend. Though he notes that broadcasting mass daily has helped a lot of people, he admits that this did not compare to the experience of celebrating mass together with the community.
Newsbook.com.mt spoke to a number of priests and lay people who flocked to Malta’s churches for mass this weekend, when Catholics observe the Feast of Corpus Christi.
As many are still wary as a result of the pandemic, especially those most vulnerable to it, the crowds were smaller than they had been before the pandemic. But this did not dampen the joy felt by Għaxaq parish priest Gordon Refalo, who noted that many of his parishioners were similarly emotional as they returned to the church. Fr Eddie Zammit, the personal assistant of Gozo Bishop Mario Grech, said that the presence of people wearing masks and visors during mass took some getting used to.
Though people may have been a little wary, Fr Sinclair Bugeja noted that “there was nothing better than celebrating mass for a community that you love, and that you know loves you back.” Fr Anthony Fitzpatrick similarly described returning to church as a wonderful experience, adding that the period of enforced absence from church may have led people to appreciate more what they may once have taken for granted.
Similar reactions were to be had from lay people, with Sylvana Debono stating that the joy of returning to church neutralised any discomfort to be had from wearing masks and visors. The experience, she said, was marked by a sense of thankfulness and relief.
Francesco Pio Attard was pleased to see churches come back to life now that the faithful could participate in the celebration of mass once more. Annie Falloon said that entering church felt like going to a long-anticipated special event, and that it was wonderful to receive communion again after so many months.
Anna Maria Vella said that following mass through her laptop was far from an adequate substitute for church, and described an atmosphere vibrant with excitement. However, she admitted that the precautionary measures took their toll on the atmosphere in church.
Happy to see familiar faces after so long – Bishop Joseph Galea-Curmi
Reuniting in church for mass after a three-month absence was an emotional experience. Though there were various social distancing restrictions, and people were wearing visors or masks, it was great to see people I had last seen in church weeks ago.
The reflections I made during this three-month period helped me appreciate all those who come to church to celebrate the Eucharist even more. How important it is for everyone to feel welcomed, loved and helped to draw close to God!
I feel that broadcasting mass on TV and online did – and are doing – a lot of good, and that this has helped bring people together in prayer and bring them closer to the Word of God. But this can never take place the experience of meeting each other as a family, celebrating mass together and receiving the Eucharist. Whenever this is possible, it remains a unique experience and of great help to us Christians.
A celebratory experience – Sylvana Debono
Mass today was truly a celebratory experience. The ringing of the bells, joyous in sound was like the uplifting of the thankful voice of the faithful praying in unison. The level of cooperation and order which the congregation kept was impressive even neutralising the discomfort of masks and visors. Social distancing was rigorous and the exchange of peace a reserved affair. For someone of my character this was not a bad thing as I have always felt odd shaking hands with perfect strangers. In spite of the lack of singing, also perhaps a mercy for someone as out of tune as myself, Mass was marked by a sense of thankfulness and relief.
Long-anticipated special event – Annie Falloon
Entering the church for mass today felt like going to a long-anticipated special event. Queuing outside the main door, having my temperature scanned, and being ushered to particular seats, all added to that feeling. It was great to have a visible community of people sharing the mass again. I missed the explanation regarding communion so was a bit confused when the priest said nothing when distributing the hosts, but that soon passed, and it was a wonderful experience to receive communion again after so many months.
A highlight and a ritual – Anna Maria Vella
Going back to church on Sunday was definitely a highlight and a ritual I longed for and looked forward to. I could no longer take my daily mass in front of my laptop. Try as they might, the priests celebrating a screened mass could not give us the sense of communion of a live mass. I went to the church I usually go on Sundays. Everything was perfect according to instructions and law. The atmosphere was vibrant with excitement and anxiety to behave well. Unfortunately that came at a cost, a hefty one I need to add. I found it very hard to pray and bask in the warmth of communion. What I longed for was not the same. Everything had to be sterile and clean…. too cold for my liking