One of the few country travel corridors still open to a London resident like me, where quarantine is not needed upon entry or return, is Germany. So on 12 September, a confirmation service, delayed from last May was finally able to be celebrated in All Saints Cologne.
With 16 candidates it was one of the largest confirmations held in the parish since the mid 1960s. It was necessary, by German regulations, to restrict the numbers in church for the mass, which meant that besides the candidates, only close family members could attend, which was a disappointment for so many in the chaplaincy of Bonn and Cologne who would have wanted to be present.
Nevertheless, it was a wonderful celebration. But a few modifications were required to keep everyone as safe as possible:
The congregation and ministers were masked, except for presidential prayers and preaching, when there was ample physical distancing.
Cotton wool, changed for each candidate, was used for the anointing with Holy Chrism. Doors to the outside kept open to permit the circulation of fresh air.
The laying on of the bishop's hand is an essential part of the sacrament of confirmation, so an acolyte well rehearsed in managing sanitizing spray for my hand betwen each candidate was absolutely essential. Probably not something covered in the usual servers' training manuals!
Of course we missed some of the usual features of a confirmation service: a packed church, congregational singing, the procession to the font, the sprinkling with water, and the reception of Holy Communion under both kinds, but even in these troubling times, with due care, the celebration of faith continues in God's holy Church.
May God grant continued protection to the candidates and guide their steps in their life in Christ.
Photos courtesy of Reiner Knudsen