This weekend, when the Catholic Church in our Diocese celebrates the Solemn Feast of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ, seems like the perfect occasion to welcome all the faithful of the four counties to return to full participation in the Holy Eucharist by lifting the dispensation from the Sunday/Holy Day Mass obligation that was granted a year ago March 12 to protect them from the virulent pandemic that threatened their lives, health and well-being as well as that of the community as a whole. 

The Church has never required individuals who are sick, contagious or otherwise disabled/impeded to observe this obligation, but such a widespread dispensation given to all the faithful has been rare in the Church’s history.  The same exception continues to hold for the sick, contagious or otherwise disabled/impeded, but the rest of the faithful are asked to return to the normal practice of attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of obligation with their parish communities as the dispensation fades into our collective memory.

The Catholic Church has long spoken of the Holy Eucharist as the “source and summit of the Christian life” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, 11; Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324).  The Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is, indeed, the root and foundation of who and what we are as a Catholic Christian community as well as the goal of who and what we seek to become along with our Catholic sisters and brothers.  We believe that as the heart of our Catholic faith and not merely as a matter of obligation.

In the past year, I was so happy to hear many of the faithful speak frequently and with such longing of their desire to return to Mass with their parish communities in full churches once again.  Now, at long last, that opportunity arrives and we welcome it and one another with joyful hearts.  

Mindful that the pandemic is still in our midst, we should pray for its end and exercise reasonable care to do whatever we can to bring that end about in our communities.

Come back to Holy Mass!  Welcome home!