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Ready or not, here they come! (The holidays, that is...)

Thanksgiving is one week from today. Like you, we at St. Mary Magdalene feel like we are waiting on pins and needles. In some ways, this year has blown by so quickly, and yet somehow we feel like we are holding our collective breath in anticipation of... what? More bad news? Illness? Job changes? Holidays? It's definitely a challenging time, and much is not in our control, but sometimes it helps to calm the chaos when we have a plan or know what to expect. So we thought it might be helpful to share a bit of what to expect of public worship at St. Mary Magdalene for the holidays.

Recognizing these times are fluid, and subject to change upon directives by the governor or the Ohio bishops, here are our tentative plans:

On Thanksgiving day, we will celebrate Mass at 9am. Many families find this to be a great opportunity to start the day with true gratitude for God's many blessings. We have traditionally invited the assembly to come forward at the Offertory with donations of non-perishable food to restock our St. Vincent de Paul pantry. We still encourage you to bring food - but rather than bring them up in the middle of Mass, we will have large baskets in the gathering area. Donations will be gratefully accepted as you enter the church. Our St. Vincent de Paul feeds so many families, and the need has increased during this time of pandemic. We are indeed grateful, for their ministry and for your support!

Our Christmas Mass Schedule will be:
Christmas Eve: 4:30pm, 6:30pm, 10:00pm
Christmas Day: 9:00am, 11:00am

Please know that the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass remains in place. We are adhering to the directives, and Christmas Mass will feel different this year. For example, accommodating social distancing means seating in the church will be limited. However, we broadcast Mass on the radio - 96.3 FM - so you can stay in your car and still participate. When it is time for Communion, as we pray, "Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof," come under the Gathering Area hood, and a minister will bring Eucharist out. (This is true of any Mass at St. Mary Magdalene!)

Inside the church, rather than having a Communion procession, the minister brings Eucharist to you. When Mass has ended, we use an orderly dismissal process: Folks sitting on the chapel side exit to the outer aisles, while those on the gathering area side exit to the center aisle. Our ushers direct the dismissal row by row, to help with maintaining distance.

Perhaps one of the most challenging parts of our "new normal" has been the absence of communal singing. Please know that these decisions are made based on scientific facts, and to protect the health of everyone. I know, the idea of Christmas Mass without singing Silent Night seems incomprehensible. I recognize this is a painful reality. But we have a choice - we can lament what feels restrictive, or appreciate what we CAN do - so I offer just a bit of encouragement.

The adjustments to public worship have helped us to focus on the Scriptures, including the Antiphons. They have helped us all to recognize the integral parts that community and music play in our worship. I think they have helped us to appreciate worship at St. Mary Magdalene - and perhaps even helped us reframe our thinking. I don't know about you, but I'm pretty sure when we can once again sing out our "alleluias," I will be so grateful for every voice, every note, and every heart gathered as one - no matter the pitch or volume. Thank God for that clarity, and for the opportunity to pray together. Most of all, this time has reminded us that we are all in this together. It's clear that we are all are part of a bigger picture - indeed, parts of one body. Just think... a positive of the pandemic is that we as a community have literally embodied Scripture:

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. I Corinth 12:12

Finally, may we never forget:
God is faithful, and by him you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. I Corinth 1:9

May you be blessed!
In Christ,

Mary Hrich
Director of Liturgy and Music, St. Mary Magdalene