Returning to celebrate Mass together – a brief guide

With the changes made in the latest review of Covid 19 measures by Welsh Government, we are delighted to be allowed, once again, to celebrate Mass together! Obviously, we are keen to do this safely, so are asking you to observe the following points, please.

  1. Our ‘safe capacity’ for Mass is 25 (if individuals are from different households – members of the same household can, of course, sit together and thus increase our capacity). This provides a 2m physical distance between worshippers from different households, which will work easily for weekdays. For Sundays, however, it means we may need to offer a third Mass to accommodate everyone wanting to come. Experience in England suggests a ‘slow’ return to Mass initially, hence for 19th July, we will stick to two Sunday morning Masses at 9.30am and 11.30am. Since we need to continue for now to offer Mass here for the South Wales Ordinariate Mission also, the Sunday 11.30am Mass will be in the Ordinariate Rite (though it is, of course, open to local parishioners as well and is a normal Catholic Sunday Mass). In order to avoid a ‘booking system’ (which would be unfair to some), we are planning to operate a ‘first come – first served’ system. However, if you could indicate when you are planning to attend beforehand, we would hopefully not have to turn anyone away at any Mass (which we would not want to do, of course).

  2. We recognise that not everybody will be ready to come back to Mass straight away at all, maybe because you or a member of your household is ‘shielding’. Therefore, we will continue to livestream Sunday Masses for now – do not feel you have to come back right away if you are shielding, anxious or uncertain!

  3. When you come into the church, would you please use the hand-sanitising station provided at the door, take a pew-sheet (and a ‘map’, showing the one-way system, if you would like one – see below) and follow the green arrows and yellow signs on the floor to the pews. Please use only seats marked with a green tick, not those marked with a red cross. If you come with members of your own household, you can obviously sit together in one pew, and the pews in the side aisle (near the Lady Altar) might be ideal for this. Make sure to keep a safe distance from everybody else at all times and ask a steward for assistance if needed. Please note that we are operating a one-way system through the church, so that you will need go out through the tower door rather than the porch – please just follow the signs. Please take your single-use pew-sheet (and map, if you have taken one) away with you at the end of Mass.

  4. Please note that some areas of the church remain closed, most notably the St David Lewis chapel and the WC. Please do not come into the sacristy or onto the Sanctuary, either – this will help minimise the need for additional cleaning.

  5. Apart from these arrangements, there are a number of changes to the way Mass is celebrated for now: (a) unfortunately, we are not allowed to sing or use the organ; (b) to minimise contact in our small Sanctuary and around the altar, the celebrating priest will do all the preparations for Mass himself, as well as read the readings, and there will be no servers; (c) because Mass is supposed to be as short as possible for now, the sermon is to be brief (we have taken note…), and we are having no Intercessions; (d) to minimise close physical contact, there will also be no Offertory Procession, the collection baskets are not handed around but replaced by a collection ‘drop-off basket’ on the way out (near the Statue of St Joseph), and there can be no physical exchange of the Sign of the Peace (though a friendly smile and a nod or small bow to those near you at the time will be good!).

  6. We need to take particular care, obviously, about receiving Holy Communion at this time. Apart from one or two things the celebrating priest will take special care of (the lid on the ciborium from which you will receive Holy Communion remains on throughout Mass, hand hygiene measures, etc.), we need to adapt the way in which we receive the Lord in Holy Communion: this means (1) after taking Communion himself (and cleaning and sanitising his hands after), the priest, straight after saying the Communion Sentence and before administering Communion will say once ‘The Body of Christ/The Body of Our Lord Jesus Christ which was given for you, preserve your body and soul unto everlasting life’ to which all reply ‘Amen’; (2) he will then administer Holy Communion at the Altar Rail silently, showing communicants the Sacred Host but not saying anything; (3) please approach as usual for Holy Communion (making sure to maintain a 2 meter distance from anyone you do not live in one household with), and go to one of the two spots at the altar rail marked with a large green tick; (4) kneel (or stand after genuflecting), as usual to receive; (5) while receiving the Sacred Host in the mouth remains the normal way to receive our Lord in the Catholic Church (receiving in the hand, although common now, is actually always an exception that needs the local Bishop to specifically authorise it!) we cannot for now give Holy Communion in this way at Mass –for those who normally receive in the mouth, may I commend you follow the ancient practice (originally, I think, from St Cyril of Jerusalem) of making a throne with your left hand to receive the Sacrament on your right hand placed on top of your left, thence to transfer it without the touch of fingers to your mouths. This arguably shows the same level of reverence as receiving in the mouth – and it is, in fact, far better than to pick up the host with one’s fingers from one’s palm and then ‘communicate’ oneself. I would therefore suggest it might be a lovely sign of ‘being in this together’ if those normally receiving in the hand would, as a sign of solidarity, also receive in this ‘way of St Cyril’! Please stretchyou’re your arms a little when receiving, to ensure a safe distance to the priest. Please speak to Fr Bernard if there is any problem with any of this.

  7. After receiving Holy Communion, turn left and leave the church (temporarily!) through the tower door, returning back to your pew through the main door of the church to keep to our ‘one-way system’ and avoid coming to close to others.

  8. After the blessing, please leave the church through the tower door (still observing our one-way system!) – we are not supposed to gather after Mass, so please don’t. If you need to speak to the priest, please wait outside the church where he will come after taking off the Mass vestments in the sacristy. The church will be closed for cleaning after Mass.

Please note a priest will be available to hear your Confession 30 minutes before each Sunday Mass, or by arrangement as usual.