To Mask or Not to Mask

We have now spent an entire summer distancing from one another and that has been taxing on everyone.  The September 12th Winnipeg Free Press headline declared that it has been six months since the first Covid 19 case was reported in Manitoba.

Although the weather was quite wonderful and there was lots of sun and heat so that we can feel that we ‘had a summer’, nevertheless, there is that constant niggling feeling of being confined.

During my August three week retreat/holiday time it was a joy for me and my siblings to gather one time at my brother’s farm for lunch.  We’d all been isolating in our family bubbles since the end of January.  At last we were physically present to one another.

An added bonus was that the lunch was primarily all fresh from Matt and Donna’s garden– corn, potatoes, cucumbers, etc. But that kind of experience has been rare for me and for many others too.

One of my parishioners complained because he was prevented from moving around in the church at the Sunday Mass to simply talk to people!  A fellow priest confessed to me that he was feeling cooped up and that everything tended to be grating, especially with the responsibility to don masks in public spaces and even in Church.

That is an issue for some people.  MASKS.   Scientists tell us that the Covid 19 virus spreads from person to person via droplets from our respiratory systems, in other words, the invisible virus spreads when infected people breath, talk, sing, spit, etc.

Acting on this information, governments have directed citizens to wear masks, especially in places where the two metre distancing is not possible or in areas where many people congregate, like stores, malls, churches.

Some people are adamant about not wearing masks.  But it is evident that the spread of the virus is greatly curtailed when people wear masks.  We all have been given the gift of our bodies and we have a responsibility to take reasonable care for them.

Wearing a mask in the appropriate places, even though inconvenient and uncomfortable, seems a reasonable measure to care for our health.  Another good reason to follow that instruction during these pandemic days is to protect other people’s health.

Jesus’ commandment of love seems to demand it.  Wearing a mask can be construed as an act of charity.  A further act of charity is to support efforts of the leaders of our communities by providing a good example to those reticent in following reasonable precautionary directives.

And so to the question:  To wear a mask or not wear a mask?  I say, DO IT!   If not for your own health safety, do it for the safety of others.

Frank Obrigewitsch, SJ, is pastor of St. Ignatius parish in Winnipeg.

  • Caroline Maloney
    Posted at 01:18h, 29 October Reply

    Thank you for this reflection, and reminder of why me must! I rarely feel comfortable breathing, especially talking, with the mask, but at least I can remove it after leaving a store or gathering. Workers do not have that choice: they are in them (and sometimes more stuff) all day! So we must!
    Thank you again, Fr. Frank!

  • Robert Czerny
    Posted at 09:31h, 29 October Reply

    I think about care and careful versus careless, which sounds just erratic, and care-lessness that is intentional. A further dimension of charity is to avoid putting hospital workers at risk when treating the COVID condition of a patient who was willfully care-less.

  • Friederika Priemer
    Posted at 13:48h, 29 October Reply

    Thank you for your post, Fr. Frank! I fully agree. And I do hope that the second lockdown in Germany starting on Monday, November 2, will show its effect after 4 weeks – also because of wearing masks where mandatory. We all should follow the advice given by scientists and medical experts and well meaning politicians! Thanks again for reminding us. You all: Stay safe!

  • Katherine Arbuthnott
    Posted at 14:02h, 29 October Reply

    Thanks for this, Frank. I find that wearing a mask also helps me to remember to keep a reasonable distance from others – which I’m too likely to forget in a familiar place. I really don’t want to become a vector, which makes me grateful to have a mask to help me with that goal.

  • Peter Bisson
    Posted at 14:57h, 29 October Reply

    Thank you Frank!

  • Max Oliva
    Posted at 22:18h, 31 October Reply

    Thank you, Frank, for this frank article. I agree completely
    with you. Wearing a mask is to “love your neighbor as you
    love yourself. Max Oliva

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