Which safety precautions are continuing?
Following updated CDC guidance from May 2021, the archdiocesan mask mandate now only applies to all parish faithful who have not received a vaccination. Masks are optional for those who are fully vaccinated. Capacity restrictions and social-distancing measures at archdiocesan parishes will be determined by the parish pastor based on the size and construct of the parish.
Pastors will continue to be guided by directives of local health departments as they make decisions about the best interests of the spiritual and overall well-being of their parish families.
Additionally, reinstating greeters, ushers, servers, lay Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion, choirs, Holy Water in the Holy Water fonts, hymnals and missalettes in the pews, distribution of hand-outs and bulletins, the usage of offertory baskets, and other safety measures, will be at the discretion of the pastor of each parish.
Reinstating the Sign of Peace during Mass is at the discretion of the pastor. If reinstated, a non-contact sign of peace is still recommended (head bow, wave, but no handshakes) amongst the congregation.
Daily cleaning/sanitizing of pews/sanctuaries, hymnals, missalettes is no longer required based on CDC guidelines; however all will be cleaned regularly to the best of the parish's ability.
The distribution of the Chalice of the Precious Blood during Holy Communion remains prohibited due to direction from the USCCB until further notice.
Please note that all pertinent information regarding COVID-19 guidelines has been transferred and redirected from archstl.org/coronavirus to this page.
What if I’m not comfortable coming back? What if I have other health concerns?
We understand that these are uncertain times for everyone, and we want all to feel safe returning to Mass. Those who are sick, homebound, immunocompromised and gravely concerned for their health are exempt from the obligation to attend Mass, which has always been the case in normal times. For the remaining faithful, we recommend speaking with your pastor to discuss the safety measures in place at your parish and address any concerns. It’s important to always remember, Our Lord understands our circumstances and knows our hearts.
Is it a sin to miss Mass?
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in 2180 and 2181 the following:
“The precept of the Church specifies the law of the Lord more precisely: ‘On Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.’ ”117
“The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. 119 Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.”
The most important part of the celebration of Mass is the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, and the Archdiocese of St. Louis asks you to reflect on this call to return to Holy Mass in-person each Sunday to receive this glorious gift.
What if I’m uncomfortable going up to Communion?
There are several safety protocols still in place during distribution of Holy Communion. The Chalice of the Precious Blood remains suspended at this time, and Eucharistic Ministers are still required to sanitize their hands before distributing Communion and after any contact with another is suspected. The Communion Hosts are to be properly covered during consecration on the altar.
We recommend speaking with your parish pastor if you have specific concerns about Communion at your parish.
If you are still not comfortable receiving Communion in-person, please know that Holy Communion is required for Catholics at least once per year. You may at this time continue to offer a Spiritual Communion, as long as you receive our Lord physically once per year.
Why doesn’t virtual Mass count? I feel like I worship better from home.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops states the following in its guidelines for televised Masses: “Many dioceses telecast the Mass and other liturgies as a way of reaching out to those who cannot be physically present for the community's celebration of the Eucharist. The televised Mass is never a substitute for the Church's pastoral care for the sick in the form of visits by parish ministers who share the Scriptures and bring Communion, nor is it ever a substitute for the Sunday Mass celebrated within a parish faith community each week. However, televising the Mass is a ministry by which the Church uses modern technology to bring the Lord's healing and comfort to those who cannot physically participate in the liturgical life of the local Church and who often experience a sense of isolation from the parish and its regular forms of prayer and worship. In addition, many regard televised liturgies as a means of evangelization, of sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ and promoting the Church's worship via modern means of communication (cf. Inter Mirifica, #14).”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states in 2182 the following: “Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God's holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit."
For further questions regarding the lifting of the dispensation and/or COVID-19 safety protocols, please contact [email protected].