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COVID restrictions on religion: I'm still attending Mass from my church parking lot.

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I never thought I’d watch Mass from the front seat of my car. I never thought I’d receive Holy Communion standing in the parish parking lot. But there I’ve been, Sunday after Sunday for months on end, in the parking lot at St. Kilian Catholic Church in Mission Viejo, California.

From the start, I knew it wasn’t the same. Sure, the priest was still there, on a purpose-built podium. He was saying the same words, praying the same prayers and chanting the same notes, just over a loudspeaker system. The Scripture readings were the same and — most important — Jesus Christ was as present and powerful as ever in the Eucharist. But something was missing. Something crucial.

At first I thought it was the smells and bells — the incense and the organ. Then I figured it was the beauty of the sanctuary — the stained glass, the statues, the painted ceiling that draws the eye heavenward. It took a while before the real answer hit me. The people were missing.

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