Dear St. Martin Parishioners,

It is truly a joy for me to have the church open for the celebration of the Sacraments, albeit, in a limited way for the moment. As we slowly return to our sacramental life, three important questions have been brought up that I believe deserve my serious attention: Whether to come back to church now or later, whether to require face coverings in church and whether Holy Communion should only be distributed on the hands. I would like to share with you my answers.

First, I understand perfectly those of us who do not feel safe returning to Mass at this time. The Bishop does too and that is why the dispensation from the obligation of Sunday Mass is still in place. The reality is that Masses and the Sacraments are being offered in person only for those who are ready to return. However, the commandment of keeping the Sabbath day holy cannot be dispensed, and therefore, while not attending Mass in person, the faithful still owes it to God to dedicate Sunday to God (following Mass online is one way). For those who are ready to return to Mass in person, the Mass times currently offered are: 8:45 AM, 10:30 AM ( Live streamed ) and 12:15 PM.

Second, about requiring masks in church, I have two issues. One is the practical question of enforcing. I do not want to put that burden on the deacons, or staff, or the ministers of hospitality, or the Knights, or anyone of our parish. Do we block the way of those who refuse to wear masks? Do we escort them out? Do we call the police? Do we stare them down? I do not say “must” if there is no practical way to enforce it. My second issue with requiring masks in church is that it is my personal conviction that this infringes on the liberty that each American enjoys. No need to elaborate here as its discussion is beyond the scope of this communication. I will say this is one area that many good people would have to agree to disagree about. Let's do so in a charitable manner. Love of God and one another needs to be our primary goal.

Third, about Communion on the tongue, the Bishop of our Diocese recognizes that Canon Law grants the faithful the two options of receiving Holy Communion, by hand or on the tongue. This is why he has not asked us to stop distributing Holy Communion on the tongue in the present diocesan policy. Here in our parish, since the presider is the only one who distributes in this manner, those who want to avoid the risk can simply receive Holy Communion from the other minister(s) at Mass. 

I hope you do not mind me sharing with you my thoughts on these very pertinent questions. This is a strange time that requires lots of patience from us all. Please pray for me as I strive to make the best decisions I can for the spiritual good of our family of faith here at St. Martin de Porres. Meanwhile, let us have faith and be courageous.