Depending on where you live, your diocese’s guidelines, and your personal health and circumstances, you may or may not have been to Mass for a while. While all United States dioceses suspended public Masses earlier on in the pandemic, most have resumed and a few have even lifted the Mass dispensation, requiring all healthy and low-risk adults to attend.
So, should we all have returned to Mass? It’s a loaded question, and each person’s opinion often factors in their own risk factors and how seriously they are taking social distancing and local public health guidelines.
James, an 80-year-old listener from California, called Father Simon SaysTM and explained that he hadn’t been back to Mass since March, when the pandemic first started. “I’d like your opinion. Am I being too cautious or should I just go?” he asked.
“I don’t think you’re being too cautious. I think you’re within the bounds of reason. We long to be with the Lord, but on the other hand we want to stay here as long as we need to be here so there’s no need to rush it! And at the age of eighty, you know, us old folks—I’m not 80 but I’m not far behind you—we need to be a little more cautious than most people,” responded Fr. Richard Simon.
James wanted to make sure he wasn’t committing a sin by staying home from Mass. “I assume it’s true in your diocese, as most of the dioceses in the United States that we’re still dispensed from Mass. … You’re definitely not committing a sin,” advised Fr. Simon.
Just because you aren’t required to attend Mass does not mean you shouldn’t, or that you’re free to spend your Sunday doing whatever you please. It’s still the Lord’s Day and should be treated as such.
If you are at low risk of serious complications or death from COVID-19 and feel that you can safely attend Mass, by all means, go! But if you are elderly, sick, immunocompromised, caregiver for someone at high risk, or have any other legitimate reason for staying home, do not feel guilty for needing to do so.
The important thing, if you’re still unable to physically attend Mass, is to continue to set aside that time for the Lord. Read and reflect on the Mass readings; listen to or watch a live stream of the Holy Mass from your parish or Relevant Radio; pray a Holy Rosary. If you can, set up an opportunity for Confession or receiving the Holy Eucharist. Don’t let Sunday morning become more time for watching TV or sleeping in—show the Lord that although you are unable to be there for Mass in person, your faith life is still a priority and you long to be reunited with him in the Holy Eucharist one day soon!
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