From Archbishop Charles C. Thompson:
The celebration of the Eucharist at Mass is the source and summit of our life and mission as Catholics.
As of March 2020, due to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, all Roman Catholics throughout the entire Province of Indianapolis, which comprises all five dioceses of Indiana, have been dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. However, with the decrease of cases in our state, the widespread availability of vaccines, and the following the guidance of public health officials, we are now able to safely accommodate more parishioners for Masses. Therefore, effective June 11, the Solemnity of the Most Sacred Heart of Jesus, the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass is hereby lifted throughout the state of Indiana.
Those who are otherwise healthy are obliged to return to Sunday Mass [“in-person”] by the weekend of June 12-13, 2021. Except for the unique situations as described below, for those who are:
- seriously ill, exhibit flu-like symptoms and/or may have a contagious disease (including quarantine due to exposure) remain exempt from in-person attendance.
- unable to attend Mass through no fault of their own remain exempt.
- homebound and/or incapacitated due to age, infirmity and/or medical restrictions remain exempt.
- compromised health conditions and/or at high risk of contracting the virus remain exempt.
- caretakers of persons who meet one or more of the above criteria remain exempt.
The obligation to attend Mass is a joyful one, reflecting the very character of who we are as Catholics. If you have any questions about your specific circumstances, please contact Fr Gries directly at 812-944-8283x1 or [email protected] As your pastor, I have the authority to dispense in individual cases.
Over the last several months, with the widespread availability of the COVID vaccine, I have spoken with person after person who tells me of the great and tremendous joy they feel at finally being able to return in-person to Mass. It is evident in their eyes, their faces, their whole being, that they are happy, glad, and elated to be back. For those who are back, I hope that has been and continues to be your experience of in-person participation in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. As Catholic Christians with a deep understanding of God’s real Grace transmitted the Word proclaimed in the congregation gathered and through the Sacraments received, virtual participation is always an inadequate experience of Christ and the Church. From the beginning, God commented it was ‘not good for man (or woman) to be alone’ (Gn 2:18). Not only do we need human relationship in our daily lives, we need communal relationship with each other and the Lord. This past year has helped us see the deep truth of this reality.
I know some will bristle at the word “Obligation”. Some, simply because they resist anyone telling them or setting any external measure or expectation. Others because they know that our weekly Sunday celebration of Mass is more than a mere obligation but the greatest of all Gifts. In restoring the obligation, the Archbishop wants the latter not the former. He wants us to be joyful in our return – the way there is immense joy at the return of one who has long been absent or away in at last embracing their family once again. Yet, the return of the formal obligation is a sign of normalcy and a real reminder of that which is most important in our Catholic Christian lives. A Catholic that remains far from the fire of the Eucharistic Assembly will rather quickly grow cold in their Christian discipleship in daily life. The Archbishop knows this truth, and in his role as chief shepherd of the local Church, he wants to protect the whole flock. Part of this includes reminding the ‘sheep’ of their need to come to the Green Pastures of the local parish, to the restful Waters of Christ’s living Word, to the Table set abundantly with the Eucharist, all so we may forever dwell in the House of the Lord (Cf. Psalm 23). I look forward to joyfully seeing YOU this Sunday (and every Sunday) in-person for Mass!
Holy Family, Nourished by the Word made Flesh, Pray for us.
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries