The Sunday Mass obligation will be restored for Catholics in the state of Colorado next month, unless sickness or another grave reason prevents them from being able to attend Mass.
A joint statement from the bishops of Denver, Colorado Springs, and Pueblo on April 6 announced that the Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligation will be restored on Pentecost, May 23.
The bishops urged all Catholics without significant health risks or other serious obstacles to attend Mass every Sunday and to use this Easter season to reflect on the importance of Mass and the Church’s teaching surrounding it.
As Catholics, we are invited by God to gather together in community, and participate fully in the Sunday Eucharist, which is the ‘source and summit of the Christian life,’” the bishops said.
“The Sunday and Holy Day obligation is not something God asks of us out of his own necessity or need to be worshipped, but rather a gift to the faithful for our own spiritual nourishment, happiness, and eternal salvation.”
As the coronavirus pandemic swept through the United States last spring, every Catholic diocese in the country suspended the public celebration of Masses. In many areas, public Masses were restored several months later, with restrictions in place to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Dioceses have gradually begun reinstating the Sunday Mass obligation in recent months.
“While entering into any public space over the last year has included some risk, the safety and health protocols implemented at our parishes have proven to be extremely effective, and we are unaware of any issues of community spread happening at a public Mass,” the Colorado bishops said in their statement.
“Prudent health precautions will still be taken by every parish, but as the worst of the pandemic seems to be behind us, and access to COVID-19 vaccines for those who desire to receive it has increased, the time has come that the general dispensation is no longer necessary.”
The bishops noted that the Church has always permitted those with “serious reasons” to be exempted from the obligation to attend Mass. Such serious reasons, they said, could include sickness, exposure to the coronavirus, or being or caring for someone who is high risk and unable to enter public areas. In addition, they clarified, the obligation does not apply for someone who is unable to attend Mass due to ongoing capacity limits on religious services during the pandemic.
“Anyone who isn’t able to go to Mass should continue to keep the Sabbath holy with intentional time in prayer including engagement in the readings for the day, which may be enhanced through watching a pre-recorded or livestreamed Mass and making a spiritual communion,” they said.
The bishops encouraged Catholics to pray for an end to the pandemic, for those who have suffered a loss, and for a rejuvenated faith, especially for those who have drifted from their faith during this time.
“Let us ask the Lord for a renewed spirit in every one of us: that we can emerge from this pandemic stronger and with an increased commitment to sharing the Good News and building up Christ’s Church,” they said.
Cover image: Chapel pews by Elena Dijour/Shutterstock via CNA