Mangaluru: The Karnataka government has issued an order re-imposing lockdown on Sundays beginning from July 5, 2020, until August 2, 2020. This means, no activity other than essential services and supplies is allowed. This situation affects the celebration of Sunday Masses.
The Bishop of Mangalore Diocese Rt Rev Dr Peter Paul Saldanha in his media release has issued new directives to the faithful in this context and following theological reflections and pastoral provisions/measures will be in order:
1) Sunday is the Lord’s Day. It is also the day of the Church. The Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist is at the heart of the Church's life. Moreover, Sunday is the day of faith, which is stressed by the fact that the Sunday Eucharistic liturgy, like the liturgy of other solemnities, includes the Profession of Faith. The Creed declares the baptismal and Paschal character of Sunday.
2) On the pastoral level, the community aspect of the Sunday celebration should be particularly stressed. Among the many activities of a parish, none is as vital or as community-forming as the Sunday celebration of the Lord's Day and his Eucharist.
3) On Sundays and other holy days of obligation, the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants, physical and moral impossibility) or dispensed by their own pastor (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2181).
4) 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 (CCC, 2182).
5) Television, internet, and social media have made it possible to join in the Eucharistic celebration broadcast from some sacred place. Those faithful who are sick, disabled, and those who are prevented from personal participation in the Mass can unite in the celebration through their desire for the Eucharist.
6) Masses and liturgical celebrations broadcast over the TV, internet and social media do not in itself fulfill the Sunday obligation, which requires participation in the fraternal assembly gathered in one place, where Eucharistic communion can be received. But for those who cannot take part in the Eucharist and who are therefore excused from the obligation, television and media are a precious help (Dies Domini, 54).
7) The diocesan Bishop can dispense from Sunday obligation but cannot change the obligation to another day. Sunday obligation is just that Sunday. The obligation may be fulfilled at any Mass on Saturday evening but may not be transferred to a weekday. It is important to remember that for Christians Sunday as such is not a transferable feast. During the first three centuries, Christians met on Sunday even though it was a normal working day, and many of them were slaves taking a great risk.
8) While the lockdown on Sundays prevents people from participating in the Sunday Mass, they can fulfill the Sunday obligation by participating in Masses on Saturday held after 4.00 p.m. Hence Parish Priests can arrange to have more than one Mass on Saturday evenings taking into account the convenience of the people.
9) Because of the restriction of space in the church and social distancing, it may not be possible to accommodate at Mass all those who are not prevented from participating in it. Therefore, as a matter of exception in these difficult circumstances, in the diocese of Mangalore, I permit the Parish Priests to have Masses with Sunday Liturgy – Sunday Proper, Readings, homily, the prayer of the faithful, etc on Friday evenings after 4.00 p.m. This provision can be used only when lockdown is mandated on Sunday. This permission cannot be extended to other days and other times.
10) This pastoral response of having Friday evening Masses with Sunday Liturgy is a temporary measure (an exception) made by the Bishop for the benefit of those Catholics who find it impossible to attend Mass on Saturday evening considering that they should not be deprived of the riches offered in the Sunday liturgy. On other days and times, Masses are to be celebrated as indicated in the Liturgical Ordo. The faithful can draw immense spiritual benefit by participating in weekday Masses celebrated without Sunday liturgy.
11) Parish Priests who act well in addressing their spiritual needs by providing the best liturgical opportunity should be very careful to avoid the impression that they are moving Sunday to another day. Clear catechesis is necessary to explain that using Sunday liturgy for pastoral purposes is not synonymous with fulfilling the Sunday obligation.
12) For matters relating to dispensation from the obligation of participating in Sunday Mass and the necessity of following the safety protocols and standard operating procedures, kindly follow the “Pastoral Guidelines on the Resumption of Public Masses” issued on June 9, 2020. These are republished in the Inter Nos of July 2020.
13) Those Catholics who are prevented from entering the church for Mass due to number restrictions need not be troubled in their consciences by a situation beyond their control. They are called to spend adequate time in prayer, scripture/spiritual readings, devotional/spiritual exercises in their homes, and do charity. Please advise and exhort the faithful through the preaching, catechesis, and announcements.
14) Sundays provided the faithful to express their communion with and support to the Church. This concern for the Church shouldn’t diminish. All are to keep in mind that they “have the duty of providing for the material needs of the Church, each according to his/her abilities” (CCC, 2043).
15) Bearing in mind the increasing number of cases of Covid-19, containment zones in and around parishes, and taking into account the different context and situation experienced in diverse geographical areas, Parish Priests are granted permission to decide about having or not having Masses in their respective parishes in consultation with the Parish Pastoral Council and Covid-19 Safety Committee. In case, they decide not to have Masses for a short period of time in their parish church, they should apply the same principles for weddings, funerals and other occasions.
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