We have been having Masses with the faithful present in-person since May 19th. That is Twelve weeks or nearly 3 months. Those who have attended would likely affirm that the protocols at Mass are simple to adhere to and provide a safe environment to gather for the celebration of the Mass. Is it perfect, or could it ever guarantee 100% safety? No, but it wasn’t 100% safe prior to the March 17 closure. In fact, life is never 100% safe per se. We have, however, done what we can to mitigate the risks. For generally healthy & active people, I would suggest attending Mass is one of the safest outings you likely engage in.
This said, the pandemic is still present among us. Many people are still getting infected, getting sick, and sadly some are succumbing to the virus. With that in mind, on Monday, 03 August 2020 – the five bishops of Indiana, including Archbishop Thompson, extended the dispensation from the obligation of Sunday Mass attendance in-person beyond August 15 until November 1. This is for all Catholics, but particularly those who might be especially vulnerable to COVID-19. Being dispensed from Mass attendance in-person does not mean one can simply ignore the Lord’s Day. In justice, we owe God prayer, worship, devotion, sacrifice, offering, and more. The Lord God has given us everything. Period. As such, we owe God due recognition, reflection, and time, which is most perfectly performed in the Liturgy that Christ instructed us to “Do in memory of Him.” If you are not able to attend in-person as yet, please watch Mass online, Read the Sunday readings, pray a Rosary, or spend meaningful time in prayer with the Lord.
As your pastor, who is tasked with ‘care of souls,’ I would be remiss if I did not encourage people to think and pray seriously about their engagement with Christ and the Church. Am I staying away out of undue fear? Am I staying away by apathy or laziness? Am I staying away because I’ve not prioritized the Lord God in my life? Am I staying away because “I don’t have to”? Or am I staying away out of a sound assessment of my (or a home member’s) health situation? There are valid reasons people should stay home. There are many less than valid reasons people are staying home.
If you are currently getting out and about for work, grocery, restaurants, shops, medical appointments, sports or leisure activities – all with appropriate precautions (mask and social distancing) and you are not exhibiting any COVID symptoms, you should be at Mass in-person. It seems somewhat insincere to go about our personal and professional life, but not attend to our spiritual life in relationship to Christ and the Church.
If you are 65 years or older and/or have complicating health factors, you are recommended to stay home. However, if you fall in this category and feel comfortable and confident going about your personal and professional life with certain precautions, you are WELCOME to come to Mass in-person. We already have many 65+ parishioners who have been attending Mass in-persons regularly for many weeks.
Making light of our religious duty to God, failing to neglect to our spiritual health, and setting poor examples for children, spouse, or neighbor, all have damaging consequences. I’m not attempting to scare people with the fires of hell, but with each passing week, I do fear that the inertia of not participating will have long lasting, even eternal, effects upon the very people I’m tasked to care for. If I said nothing, I would not be acting after the example of the Good Shepherd calling all people to holiness of life in word and deed.
Fr Gries will host a no commitment, come-and-see, information session regarding the Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults (RCIA). This is for persons who are interested in learning more and prayerfully considering becoming Catholic. Whether you were Baptized Christian in another denomination and now feel called to become Catholic or have never been Baptized, this is a great place for you. The first night, I will answer preliminary questions, talk about the overall process, and give out information. There is no cost. We will meet at 6p on Wednesday 19 August 2020 in the Parish Office Conference Room. Please bring a mask, your questions, and an open heart.
Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, & Joseph, Pray for us.
~ Fr Jeremy M. Gries