There is one question I get as a canon lawyer that sets my teeth on edge. “Can they make me wear a mask at Mass?” I cannot imagine a question less Christian and I marvel that someone who thinks they are a great, Mass-going Catholic would even think to ask this. Yet priests all over the country are being confronted with people coming to Mass and refusing to wear a mask. It calls on the masked attendees to stand with the priest.
A friend of mine in the Northwest, had started Mass when an older man and his adult daughter came in without a mask and climbed into a pew. The usher brought them masks and they refused to take them. The usher immediately went to the side of the altar and told the priest what he had already witnessed from the altar. The priest stopped the Mass and walked in front of the altar and said that if these two did not wear the offered mask, he was going to stop the Mass. The two were outraged and loudly called the priest’s bluff. Then from the look on the priest’s face and his failure to cower and go back up on the altar, they realized they had met their match. They exited the pew and left the Church loudly threatening never to return again. This all took a toll on the parishioners there and an even bigger one on the priest. He was still shook three days later telling me what happened.
I see the importance of wearing a mask everywhere. I never leave my home without being masked and have a spare in my car in case I forget or someone without one wants to talk with me. I have a touchless thermometer, gallon jugs of hand sanitizer and no one gets into my office without a mask properly in place. I do not want to carry the virus home to my ninety-four year old mother. I take it personally. If you do not wear a mask, you do not have enough respect for me to hire me to be your lawyer. You are not going to listen to my advice and nothing I do for you will ever satisfy you.
This brings to me the most important reason to wear a mask to Church and not turn this into some legal question. I like my pastor and I do not want to see him or anyone else up on the altar, die from covid. We had a shortage of priests without the virus! Now we are going to make their work even more hazardous? I see wearing a mask as not only protecting the people around me, but most importantly, the priest celebrating the Mass. I want to have Masses in my church long after this virus is gone, please God. That is not going to happen if we do not wear a mask to Mass and stop asking selfish questions. You cannot have a Mass without a priest. Put on the mask and stop asking.