As public Masses resume in the Archdiocese of St. Louis on May 18, many Catholics are relieved by being reunited with our eucharistic Lord and with one another.
“I am filled with the joy of this Easter season to be able to once again reunite our faithful in the celebration of public Masses, centered around the Eucharist given to us by our Lord Jesus Christ,” Archbishop Robert J. Carlson said in a statement announcing the resumption of public Masses.
He also expressed his gratitude for assistance from leaders in guiding “parish communities in their faith journeys, while prudently following all protocols to keep God’s people safe and healthy.”
As parishes take their first steps to reconvene and offer public Masses, we need to remember to extend grace to our pastors and other parish leaders, as they undoubtedly are making important, yet difficult decisions going forward, keeping in mind their particular circumstances as well as the health and safety of their flock.
Parishes have been encouraged to continue livestreaming Masses for those who are not yet comfortable or unable to return to a public setting. And the archbishop has extended his dispensation from the obligation of attending Mass for the time being.
Catholics who return to Mass should offer prayers for those who cannot be with us physically, as well as those who have been affected by the pandemic. Those who are unable to attend Mass should also continue to make an act of spiritual communion, in an effort to remain spiritually united with our eucharistic Lord.
Undoubtedly the Mass we return to will be the same, but the ways in which we worship will look different for a while. We should strive to exercise the virtues of charity, humility and patience, and we must remain extra vigilant about our presence around others.
We should have reverence and respect for the Eucharist while at Mass. There is a time and place for discussion and debate about the pandemic and related topics, but Mass is not the setting for that.
Health and safety guidelines may vary from parish to parish, and some might be difficult to interpret, and some may change in time. If we err on the side of respect, caution and deference to health officials and our pastors, we’ll all be able to more fully participate at Mass.