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Colorado bishops to restore Sunday Mass obligation on Pentecost

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.

(Image: Elena Dijour/Shutterstock)

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.

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  1. The obligation of the third commandment cannot be abrogated by the bishops as Cardinal Dolan of New York has noted. This should be made clear.

  2. Familiar with only two parishes in the Archdiocese of Denver, I can attest to one taking appropriate precautions for the past year, although there is a relaxing of mask mandates at most Masses now. The other has never taken seriously any of the regulations that were instituted in the beginning of the pandemic, because the pastor, despite overwhelming evidence to the contrary, has deemed the virus to be “not real.” I missed many daily and Sunday liturgies this past year because of his disbelief. As a senior of 72 years with three additional co-morbidities, I left the latter parish because of the lack of serious consideration for those most at risk. There are two Masses at the former that requires mask-wearing throughout the liturgy, but some in the congregation wear a mask below their noses, which amounts to not wearing a mask at all. If St. Thomas Aquinas was correct, and I believe that he was, out of our willing the good of another unselfishly, we would all wear the masks appropriately. Maybe there is nothing protective about masks, but why not err on the side of caution? I believe that we owe it to one another in charity. I hope that restoring the Mass obligation won’t result in any Covid-19 spread. Reinstating the Mass obligation may be risky, and it probably won’t matter much to those who attend Mass from a sense of obligation.

    • While “mask police” and pro-isolation advocates have indulged themselves in self-righteous spasms about mask wearing for over a year, people in isolation have been increasingly injured or KILLED as a result. Such as: Soaring rates of spousal and child abuse, suicide, drug and alcohol overdose, marriages failing as a side effect of unrelenting “togetherness”, businesses shuttered forever with the resultant cascading economic impact,and children deprived of a sound education in order to placate selfish unions. Human beings cannot and should not wear masks FOREVER, which is what this is starting to look like. Isolation is what we do to punish violent prisoners ( and even that sparingly) , not to children and everyday humans. MANY of us are tired of cranky random strangers telling us what to do. I have had covid. I am not young and I am not DEAD. I have now had two covid shots as well. If you are frightened, stay home and leave the rest of us alone. Not everyone is a ticking time bomb. In my opinion, we must all chose how we will live or die. The freedoms too many gave up so willingly may never be recaptured from the power hungry and the control freaks. “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety”.—Benjamin Franklin

  3. I understand how bishops have authority in their own diocese. But, I think they will have a difficult time explaining to their people, especially what we might term marginal catholics, why it is a serious sin to miss mass in one diocese that has restored the mass obligation, and not a sin at all in a neighboring diocese that has not restored the obligation. Especially having gone for a full year with no obligation, and initially with no masses being said at all per the bishops’ orders.

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