I would like to share with you some important sections of the letter our Bishop Barber wrote with regard to the Eucharist. The dispensation that was given at the beginning of the pandemic from the obligation to attend mass will be lifted on August 15, 2021. You can read the full letter by clicking the link below.
“We are coming off a year and a half of “fasting” from full, personal, and active participation in the Eucharist because of the Covid pandemic precautions. Hence the Lord says again to us, as He did to the Apostles at the Last Supper, “How I have longed to be with you!” And how we priests have longed to be with you also to celebrate together the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection.
I cannot tell you how happy I was to see so many people coming back for Holy Week and Easter and since the June 15 lifting of most COVID restrictions, for daily and Sunday Masses. I felt like St. Peter at the Transfiguration, when he said, “Lord, it is good for us to be here!”
By participating in the Mass, we can be with Jesus at the moment He lays down His life for His friends. You and I are those friends. Jesus loved His Apostles “to the end” (Jn. 13:1), and He will love us “to the end.”
When Christ said, “Come to me all you who labor and are burdened, and I will give you rest,” I believe He was encouraging us to come to Him where He is most intensely present, in His own Body and Blood on the altar of sacrifice at every Mass. Maybe that explains the sociologists’ study that found all socio-economic groups of people suffered more anxiety, more stress, and more depression during the pandemic, except one group - those who attend church regularly.
When Christ said to the Apostles at the Last Supper, “Do this in memory of me,” He was not only giving a command to the Apostles to celebrate the Eucharist - He was also inviting all of us, Christian brothers and sisters, to come together at the altar, to listen to Him speaking to us in the Scriptures, and to receive Him inside our bodies and our hearts.
Bishop Barber is reinstating the law which was dispensed because of the pandemic. “Our solemn obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation will come back into force in the Diocese of Oakland on Sunday, August 15, 2021, the Solemnity of the Assumption of Our Lady into Heaven.”
There are valid reasons why a catholic can miss Sunday Mass. Here are the words of the bishop taken from his letter:
“While it is true that illness, infirmity or truly serious reasons may impede and therefore always dispense us of our obligation to come to church for Mass, any casual absence from Mass without serious reason carries the burden of a willful sin against God and neighbor and should be brought to Confession before receiving Holy Communion. Long before this pandemic, the Church has always recognized that there are “serious” or “grave” reasons that prevent Catholics from attending Mass. For example, if a person is sick or homebound, or living/visiting areas of the world where access to the Mass is limited, or a situation arises that prevents travel (snowstorm or flat tire), such persons would not be bound by the obligation. In the case of this pandemic, serious or grave reasons would include:
•Anyone who is sick, symptomatic, or has been recently exposed to the coronavirus. Protecting the health of others is an act of Christian charity and our moral duty to one another.
•Anyone with significant health risk factors that requires them to avoid public spaces, or if you care for someone with significant risk.
•Anyone who cannot attend Mass through no fault of their own, for example, a parent caring for a sick child, or if the priest is sick.”
To read the full letter from Bishop Barber, click here.