Finally, Hello, Mass!The dispensation from the obligation to participate in Sunday and Holy Day Mass will expire on Pentecost 2021 (May 22-23, 2021).
Our bishop is calling us back to Mass. He believes that the good of Mass now is greater than any danger there might be because of COVID for most of us. This means the ability to not have to limit the number of people present at Mass. At our parishes this has not been a problem (as it has at some parishes), so I think this change will not really effect us too much as we navigate the end of the pandemic.
A brief word about the Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligation might be helpful to many of us. The Sunday obligation means that unless one has a legitimate/serious reason to not be at Mass, if you are Catholic, you must go to Mass. Normally, to choose to not come to Mass as a Catholic, is a grave evil, so one is in danger of having committed moral sin.
At the same time, this obligation is not asking the impossible of any of us. So, for example, if the priest doesn’t show up, then those who tried to go to Mass haven’t sinned.
Sickness and health are always a legitimate reason for the obligation to not apply. Anytime someone is not well, or caring for someone who is not well, or dealing with injury, or old age, which makes it dangerous or impossible to come to Mass, then they do not sin by not coming to Mass. If someone has symptoms of a contagious sickness, like covid or the flu, then that person should NOT come to Mass. If someone knew they were sick with a contagious disease then they would sin by coming to Mass.
So for coronavirus, anyone who is high risk and still waiting for a vaccine will not be obligated to come to Mass. If you have chosen not to get the vaccine, then you are obliged to come to Mass. Anyone who is caring for someone high risk and is still waiting for the vaccine is not obliged to come to Mass. Obviously, anyone who has symptoms or knows they have COVID should not come to Mass.
In the coming weeks, I will continue to reflect on aspects of our Sunday obligation, the great gift of the Mass and how we can invite each other back.
I want to conclude by inviting you to join me throughout the month of May for live updates and Q&A on our Facebook page(s). Every day at 2 PM, I, or someone else for those few days I am unavailable, will go live on our St. Robert Facebook page. When possible, I will go live on both our Good Shepherd and St. Robert pages, but sometime my devices make this impossible. I am hoping this will allow us to connect, be informed, be encouraged in our faith, get involved and invite.
May God bless you and yours abundantly this week. ––Fr. Jon