Dispensations That Allowed Catholics To Attend Mass Virtually To Be Lifted Sunday
Catholics in the Springfield-Cape Girardeau Diocese will soon be required to attend in-person mass except for some exceptions.
After the pandemic was declared last March, most Catholics in the U.S. were freed from attending mass in person after bishops issued general dispensations. And most Catholic churches closed their doors and moved online for a time before reopening with precautions—like social distancing—in place. Many continued to offer live streams of their masses for those who chose not to attend in person.
But, in a letter to Catholics this week, Bishop Edward Rice, with the local diocese, said due to “the widespread use of the COVID-19 vaccines, federal and local statistics indicate that infection rates are on the decline.” He said, because of that, the dispensation from attendance at Sunday mass and Holy Days will be lifted as of Palm Sunday on March 28.
He said masking remains highly recommended and will be required in cities with mask ordinances.
Letter to area Catholics from Bishop Edward Rice:LITURGICAL GUIDELINES IN ANTICIPATION OF THE RETURN TO PRE-PANDEMIC LITURGICAL PRACTICES
March 16, 2021
With the widespread use of the COVID-19 vaccines, federal and local statistics indicate that infection rates are on the decline. Also worthy of note: the infection rate from churches is estimated to be .02 percent. So, our efforts over the past year have made a difference. As this trend continues, we can begin to gradually re-introduce some of the liturgical practices that were amended during the pandemic. After consultation with local authorities, diocesan staff, the Presbyteral Council, and Deans, please note the following:
The General Dispensation from attendance at Sunday Mass and Holy Days is lifted as of Palm Sunday, beginning with the Vigil Mass, the 27th of March, 2021. For the Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday celebrations, you may want to plan for a larger congregation. Those with pre-existing health concerns, serious concerns, or those caregivers to the homebound will have a Particular Dispensation.
As we move forward, it is essential that you know and follow the directives of the local Health Department.
At this time:
For the celebration of:
Palms can be distributed BUT the “Third Form: The Simple Entrance,” is recommended. Holy water can be used for the blessing of palms. Distribution of Holy Communion occurs as usual with sanitizing and masks.
These 7 p.m. liturgies will be limited to Clergy only: Mon., March 29, St. Mary Cathedral, Cape Girardeau; Tue., March 30, St. Agnes Cathedral, Springfield. Both of these Masses will be Live-streamed to the diocesan Facebook page and archived on our YouTube channel.
“The Washing of Feet” is eliminated, but the “Transfer of the Most Blessed Sacrament,” along with “Adoration before the Blessed Sacrament for a suitable length of time during the night,” should occur (pg. 313.43). The space for Adoration should allow for social distancing. Distribution of Holy Communion occurs as usual with sanitizing and masks.
Veneration of the Cross should occur “by a simple genuflection or by some other sign appropriate to the usage of the region (pg. 330.18), but the option “by kissing the Cross,” should be eliminated this year. “Only one Cross should be offered for adoration (pg. 330.19). Distribution of Holy Communion occurs as usual with sanitizing and masks.
The Easter Vigil
“The Blessing of the Fire and Preparation of the Candle,” should proceed using option 13, p. 345, i.e., a fire at the door of Church. There is no procession with the people. The Liturgy of the Word proceeds as usual. The blessing of Holy Water and reception of candidates occurs as usual. For the Confirmation of RCIA members, please sanitize after each anointing. A small dish with a cloth soaked in sanitizer is what I have used for Confirmations and this works well. Distribution of Holy Communion occurs as usual with sanitizing and masks. Jesus rises from the tomb as usual! If paper towels are used for Chrism, it must be burned, not thrown away.
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