Increased participation can draw us closer to the Lord

Numbered pews are empty Sept. 12 at Christ the King Church in Little Rock.
Numbered pews are empty Sept. 12 at Christ the King Church in Little Rock.

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor issued clarifications Sept. 29, the feast of the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael, about lifting the suspension of the obligation to attend Sunday Mass.He announced Sept. 25 that in-person Sunday Mass attendance would be required starting Oct. 1 for those who are healthy and not taking care of someone who was elderly or ill. 

The letter “to the people of the Diocese of Little Rock” states:

“As we prepare to lift the suspension of the obligation of Sunday Mass attendance for those who are in good health, not especially vulnerable and not caring for someone who is especially vulnerable, the following clarification and reminder is in order.

  • Clarification: If you are in a risk group identified by the CDC or — after serious prayer and deliberation — remain very fearful otherwise, you can consider yourself still dispensed. Older adults and persons with certain medical conditions, including asthma and diabetes, have been identified by the CDC as being at greater risk. When dealing with fear or otherwise in doubt, feel free to consult with your pastor regarding your specific situation.
  • Protocols: All of the measures we have taken for protecting our people at Mass not only remain in place, they should be more strictly observed due to the larger number of people who will be attending Mass. In addition to mask wearing the entire time you are inside the church, 6 feet physical distancing and hand sanitizing upon entry into the church, the following (about which questions have been asked) should also continue to be observed.
  • Communion on the hand: You receive on the hand with the mask still on, step aside, lower the mask, place the host in your mouth, raise the mask and return to your place. There is no Communion on the tongue except during the Latin Mass. Those desiring to receive on the tongue should wait until the congregation has left, and then receive Communion from the tabernacle, the priest or deacon sanitizing his hands before and after.
  • Dismissal: People should be dismissed row by row from the back of the church to the front and instructed to go directly to their cars. People should not be allowed to congregate in the vestibule or immediately outside the church following Mass.

“The Eucharist is the greatest treasure the Lord has left us, and it is my hope that increased participation will draw us closer to the Lord at this difficult time and provide us the spiritual nourishment we need amid the challenges we face. May the Archangels Michael, Gabriel and Raphael protect us as we move forward in our journey of faith.”

 

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