Pre-Post-COVID Worcester (508 #367)

posted by Mike on September 9th, 2020

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about COVID, Black Lives Matter, school, homicide, air quality.


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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Worcester | on September 9th, 2020 | Permanent link | No Comments »

Public Masses Restart in Worcester

posted by Mike on May 20th, 2020

The Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts, is restarting public masses this week.

Worcester Catholics have not been obliged to attend mass during the pandemic, and mass remains optional.

This plan takes the statewide safety standards for worship and adds a few tweaks. Here’s a PDF of the diocesan guidelines.

As the state asks:

  • Households will be masked and stay six feet apart. Some pews will be blocked off to maintain this distance.
  • No more than 40% the usual maximum occupancy will be allowed in the church.
  • No collection basket will be passed.
  • The parishes will come up with some way for people to leave church in an orderly, spaced manner.
  • People will not gather after mass, whether to schmooze with the priest on the front steps, or to share coffee and donuts in the church basement.

Some tweaks:

  • There will be no hymnals or bulletins. “One time use” paper worship aids are allowed, so a parish could print out the readings and make them available in the pews. Alternately “the faithful may also be reminded of online sources for the daily readings… which may be accessed on their cell phone.”
  • You can receive Holy Communion. This involves briefly removing your mask, of course. An usher will give you a squirt of hand sanitizer as you exit your pew to stand in line. People should stay 6 feet apart while in line for Communion. The priest or Eucharistic minister will keep their mask on. They will not refuse to place the consecrated host on your tongue, rather than in your hands, but they do discourage this. If the minister accidentally touches someone while distributing the host, they will stop and sanitize their hands before continuing. (In my experience they are pretty good at sanitizing before beginning, but I’ve never seen someone take a break in the middle like that.) If I am reading this right, while on the altar, the hosts will be kept in a closed container” at some distance from the breath of the celebrant.” (This seems like a great change.)
  • Church doors will be propped open, so nobody will have to touch them.
  • There will be very little singing. (Please let’s not joke about how New England Catholics never sing anyway.) Singing seems like the only thing that would make attending mass riskier than working in an office for an hour. The music will be instrumental or sung only by the cantor (no choirs). The exception are a few parts of the mass like the “Agnus Dei.” I am counting fewer than 40 words total that would be sung by the congregation.
  • The priests and liturgical ministers will not process down the central aisle at the beginning or end of mass.
  • Altar servers will wear masks while handling bread, wine, and water. They will otherwise be unmasked.

Some current restrictions will remain in place:

  • The consecrated host, but not the consecrated wine, will be distributed at Holy Communion.
  • People will not touch each other while exchanging the sign of peace.
  • There will be no open fonts of holy water.
  • Churches will be disinfected thoroughly after each mass.

Priests, deacons, altar servers, and other liturgical ministers will be unmasked for most of the mass.

posted by Mike in Religion, Worcester | on May 20th, 2020 | Permanent link | No Comments »

Gerard L’Esperance, 1929-2020, RIP

posted by Mike on May 6th, 2020

Gerard L’Esperance, long-time member of the Mustard Seed Catholic Worker community, has died.

He was a very sweet person and will be missed.

Many years back I did a quick interview with him for this blog, which gives a sense of his gentleness.

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posted by Mike in Hagiography, Worcester | on May 6th, 2020 | Permanent link | No Comments »

COVID and Kids (508 #366 w/Audrey Smolkin)

posted by Mike on April 21st, 2020

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about school and childhood trauma in this time of pandemic with Audrey Smolkin, Director of Child and Family Policy at UMass Medical School, and Tracy Novick, Worcester School Committee member.


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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Worcester | on April 21st, 2020 | Permanent link | No Comments »

COVID 1138 (508 #365)

posted by Mike on April 3rd, 2020

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about the ongoing pandemic with Worcester City Clerk Nikolin Vangjeli and Worcester School Committee member (and COVID-19 sufferer) Tracy Novick.


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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Worcester | on April 3rd, 2020 | Permanent link | No Comments »

Compline Prayers for this Time of Seclusion

posted by Mike on March 25th, 2020

Here is a PDF of Compline, the Night Prayer.

We’ve been praying this at home each night before some of us go to bed. (Others are night owls.)

This is formatted for people who’ve never prayed Compline before, and so that each day will fit on a double-sided sheet of standard letter-sized paper.

If you haven’t prayed this before, every night of the week is slightly different. You might want to light a candle, burn some incense, or otherwise set the mood before you begin. The leader reads everything in regular text. Another person reads everything in italics. The whole group reads everything in bold. Hymns are included, but you can choose another as you like. If you don’t know the “Salve Regina” another Marian hymn would be appropriate, like “Hail Holy Queen, Enthroned Above.”

If you’ve prayed this before, you’ll notice that some things are edited down a bit, so that everything will fit on a page while still being readable by those of average vision. You’ll also notice the “Salve Regina” uses a rogue form of musical notation. We use these sheets at our local soup kitchen, and the details have evolved over the years. Some weeks we are joined by people who can sight-read music, but not Gregorian notation. Whereas I don’t think there’s anyone who can sight-read Gregorian notation who doesn’t already know the “Salve Regina.”

posted by Mike in Prayer | on March 25th, 2020 | Permanent link | No Comments »

Worcester in the Time of SARS-CoV-2 (508 #364)

posted by Mike on March 18th, 2020

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about Motley Crew Way and SARS-CoV-2 with Brendan Melican, Holmes Wilson, and Tracy Novick.


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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Worcester | on March 18th, 2020 | Permanent link | No Comments »

State of Emergency (508 #363)

posted by Mike on March 11th, 2020

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, this week, we look at how Worcester rates on the Wharton Residential Land Use Regulatory Index, and share our exhaustion reading about the coronavirus.


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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Worcester | on March 11th, 2020 | Permanent link | No Comments »

COVID Fever (508 #362)

posted by Mike on March 4th, 2020

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about Worcester’s Libertarian primary, the downside of tax breaks for businesses, and pandemic prepping.

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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Worcester | on March 4th, 2020 | Permanent link | No Comments »

The Alien Cafe (508 #361)

posted by Mike on February 12th, 2020

508 is a show about Worcester. This week, we talk about H.R. Giger, mini city hall, cubicle housing, our forthcoming tiny house villages, the baseball stadium deal, malls, and the Skate Mayor.

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posted by Mike in 508: A Show about Worcester, Worcester | on February 12th, 2020 | Permanent link | 1 Comment »