No Reservations Required
"Whoever receives you receives me,and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me.
Below is a copy of the bishop’s latest letter, extending the current dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days through August 3. He has also relaxed some of the previous restrictions; for instance, non-liturgical gatherings are allowed to resume at churches. If a small group of churchgoers would like to visit downstairs after mass as had been our custom, that is fine by me; just maintain healthy social distancing practices, etc.
You no longer have to make a reservation to attend weekend masses. Do keep in mind that the vigil mass and noon mass are less crowded, especially if you are in a high risk group.
This coronavirus is going to be with us for the foreseeable future. Things are not going to return to normal until we have an effective vaccine that is widely available or until enough of the population has been exposed to it that we develop herd immunity. While we hope and pray for an effective vaccine, there is also no guarantee that one will be found.
My point is that we should plan on the current state of affairs to continue for quite some time. It may not be until next Summer before things start looking like they were before the coronavirus hit the U.S. earlier this year, including the way church services and other large gatherings are handled. We just don’t know at this point. Individuals and families are going to have to decide for themselves how much and to what extent they want to resume their normal activities, including their participation in Holy Mass during the rest of this year at least.
Here at St. Mary’s, we will continue to encourage people to employ social distancing, hand hygiene, and the wearing of masks. Beginning this weekend at the 9 am and 12 noon Sunday masses, we will increase the amount of singing during the liturgy, though we will not resume the use of hymnals or worship aids for the foreseeable future. This means not as many people will be able to sing anyway, because they will not have the music in front of them. For those who prefer less singing, the Saturday vigil mass will continue using mostly spoken responses by the congregation as we have been doing in recent months.
Going forward, I will continue wearing a mask when distributing Holy Communion. Also, I would like to mention that the confessional at St. Mary’s has a barrier between the priest and the penitent. Finally, I would encourage those who are vulnerable, sick, or otherwise at risk —but who still wish to attend mass— to consider attending a weekday mass at St. Mary’s. There are normally only about six or seven people who come to weekday masses and plenty of space to spread out in the church. We have a few reserved spaces available for the church on weekdays; if you are in this vulnerable group, you can contact the office about obtaining a parking pass.
If you choose not to attend Mass, I do urge you to make your spiritual life a top priority. At the very least, read and reflect upon the Sunday readings, commit to daily prayer, and read or view solid Catholic books or movies. If you are able, view Sunday and weekday Masses online and make a spiritual communion. Pray the rosary. Our faith life is essential! We are exploring a way to stream Sunday mass at St. Mary’s, but that system is not fully in place as yet.
Otherwise, things are good. I am in the process of moving from the Cathedral rectory to the rectory at St. Ann’s. They needed the space to make room for the two new priests being assigned to the Cathedral.
Know that I am praying for all of you, and I welcome your prayers as well.
My Dear People of God,
At the outset, allow me to express my appreciation for the willing spirit, faithfulness, and concern for neighbor that you have shown as our world has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. Our civic leaders and public health officials have indicated that we are making significant progress against the disease and no doubt, the sacrifices that we have made in the public practice of the faith are part of that progress.
In recent weeks we have enjoyed the measured and incremental resumption of the public celebration of Mass across the Diocese of Nashville. Still, we remain far from the “normal” to which we were all accustomed.
As you may remember, the dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday and Holy Day Masses and the cancellation of non-liturgical gatherings are currently effective through June 30. To encourage everyone to continue to exercise prudent care over their health and wellbeing and charity towards others, I am extending the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days through August 3.
Even as public Masses have resumed, I encourage those who are vulnerable, sick, or otherwise at risk or concerned about contracting or spreading disease, to refrain from attending Mass. Those who do choose to return to Mass should observe all guidelines concerning social distancing and diligent hygiene. We will be continuing to provide resources for growth in your life of Faith, and opportunities to watch celebrations of Mass online. Attending Mass on a weekday can also be a good way to participate in public worship in a smaller and more socially distanced setting.
In concert with phased civic regulations that are currently expanding access to a variety of different types of gatherings, pastors may now resume non-liturgical events as they deem appropriate for their communities, with due regard for specific guidelines concerning occupancy restrictions and social distancing indicated by the civic authorities. I ask that parishes continue their practices of hand hygiene, the use of masks, and other modifications of the liturgy which are in place to minimize risk. If maintaining social distancing is possible, pastors may consider beginning to expand attendance at Masses beyond the previous 50% capacity restriction.
As I have assured you throughout this time, please know of my sincere love and concern for all of you and your families. My thoughts and prayers are with you. Let us pray together that this time of renewed optimism for an end to this time of crisis may soon be brought to fulfillment by the power of God’s loving care and providence.
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Most Reverend J. Mark Spalding, D.D., J.C.L.Bishop of Nashville
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on Thursday, June 25 at 7:46PM