Daily Masses resume on Memorial Day
I am NOT permitted to celebrate public Masses on the Saturday or Sunday of Memorial Day Weekend, but I am permitted to reinstate daily Masses on May 25, Memorial Day. Since it is a Holiday, there will be NO MASS at 6:30 a.m. at St. Ann, but I WILL celebrate Mass on Memorial Day (May 25) at Sacred Heart at 7:30 a.m. and then at 9:00 a.m. at St. Ann. There will be the regular 6:30 a.m. Mass at St. Ann on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, as well as the regular Friday Mass at St. Ann at 8:00 a.m. There will be 7:30 a.m. Mass at Sacred Heart on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday; as well as Friday Morning at Sacred Heart at 7:00 a.m. There will also be the regular Saturday Morning Mass at Sacred Heart at 8:00 a.m. followed by regular confessions (which I have continued to offer throughout these weeks of quarantine from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
Resumption of Sunday Masses
The reinstatement of Sunday Masses takes place NEXT Weekend on May 30 and 31, the Feast of Pentecost. However, no Catholic in Ohio is obligated (at this time) to attend Mass. The Bishops of Ohio have extended the elimination of the obligation of the precept of Sunday attendance indefinitely. This means that NO Catholic in the Archdiocese, regardless of health, is obligated to physically attend Mass on Sunday. In fact, those with underlying medical conditions making them more susceptible are strongly encouraged to remain home and attend the Mass (virtually) on our Pastoral Region Youtube channel. If you feel it imprudent to physically attend Mass, and have decided to simply watch me celebrate Mass for the Pastoral Region on Youtube, simply call and leave a message for me. I will do my best to make certain that Holy Communion is brought to you during the week.
It is my intention to resume both Saturday Afternoon Masses (4:00 p.m. at Sacred Heart and 5:15 p.m. at St. Ann.) and on Sunday Mornings (8:00 – 10:00 – 12:00 p.m.) at Sacred Heart AND 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. Sunday Morning Masses at St. Ann. Fr. Schmitz has indicated that he will be able to help. On Pentecost Sunday, Fr. Schmitz will celebrate the 9:00 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. at St. Ann.
As I mentioned in last week’s bulletin, this will NOT be “return to life as usual!” It will be necessary for everyone to wear some nose and mouth covering for the full time you are in church. Each household unit (mom, dad and kids living in the same house) will have to socially distance from other households or individuals. All individual or single adults (not of the same household) must adhere to the six feet socially distancing rule. This will mean no greeters, no choir, no books in pews, no hand passing of collection baskets among the congregation (ushers can still use the baskets with extended handles), no sign of peace, no holding of hands at the Our Father, special communion choreography, elimination of communion on the tongue, and no congregating for conversation or fellowship before or after Mass.
I have collected all the restrictions imposed on us by the civil authorities into an easy to read “bullet point” listing with specific instructions for both St. Ann and Sacred Heart. I will provide these to all who receive the email blast. These new procedures for the duration of COVID-19 will also be available on our respective parish websites. This way all will be prepared to accommodate the new way of attending Mass for the resumption of daily Mass on May 25 and the resumption of Sunday (Weekend) Masses on May 30 & 31 Pentecost.
Sunday Mass WILL continue to be available on our Parish Websites
Even though the suspension of public Masses will end on Memorial Day, you will still be able to access virtual Mass each Sunday via our Pastoral Region Youtube page by clicking on the icon from either parish website or by going directly to our Youtube page https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCVLLqbEY5hKWinwz069MVcg . If you will be attending Sunday Mass from your home a little while longer, I suggest “bookmarking” our Youtube site for easy access. I will live-stream or record one of my two Saturday Masses from either St. Ann or Sacred Heart so it is available immediately after live-streaming as well as anytime thereafter.
RCIA Candidates and Catechumens
The Archdiocese has decided that baptisms, confirmations, and first communions for the RCIA will take place on Pentecost Eve. The RCIA will be baptized, received, and confirmed on Pentecost Eve at a private Mass so we can all still follow the rules of social distancing. The children who did the RCIC will receive their Sacraments on the Feast of Corpus Christi or shortly thereafter.
Reflection on Scripture for the Ascension
How can you say, “Ascension Thursday is on a Sunday.” Isn’t that a contradiction in terms? We know that Jesus ascended to the Father 40 days after Easter Sunday. Count it anyway you want, it has to be a Thursday. So why are we celebrating it on a Sunday? Is it because the Catholic Bishops of the United States said so? Perhaps it is because it is hard to take a day-off on a Thursday. A “holyday” is supposed to be a day when you don’t have to work. It is the root word for our word “holiday.” But in contemporary America we have separated ourselves from the tradition of Sunday belonging to the Lord. Some like first responders, medical personnel, and others must work on Sundays. Still, many in our secular society consider Sunday to be humanity’s day of recreation. In order for the Ascension to be celebrated by as many Catholics as possible, the American Bishops have moved the Feast from Thursday to the nearest Sunday.
So why is the Ascension so special? Theologically it represents the end of recounted sightings of the resurrected Jesus in the Bible. Artistically it beckons us to follow where the Lord has gone. But practically it allows us to embrace a new paradigm of reality. We will never be able to see Jesus in one another in time until he ascends to the Father. We will never be able to fully embrace the Eucharist as the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ in time until we stop looking at the resurrected body of Jesus confined by matter and time. When Jesus ascends to the Father, he transcends limiting concepts of physics like “time” and “matter,” and bestows on us the certainty of the eternal. Ask a theologian, “What time it is in Heaven?” and he will tell you there is no time in eternity. That is why it is called eternity. The jurisdiction of eternity is beyond the limitation of time. Completed being is not becoming; it is “accomplished.” In John’s gospel as Jesus dies on the cross he says in the Greek “Tetelestai” translated as “it is completed.” The resurrected body of Jesus ascending to the Father in Heaven theologically fulfills the promise of Christ’s dying words.
And so when someone asks you, “Do you “really” believe that the resurrected Jesus ascended to the Father?” Respond to them by saying, “You bet I do. After all, the eternal is always more real than the temporal.”
Next Week: Feast of Pentecost
1 Cor 12:3b-7, 12-13
Theme: Veni Sancte Spiritus