May 13, 2020
The Archdiocese of Santa Fe has not set the date that the public celebration of the Mass will commence. However, the Federation of Diocesan Liturgical Commissions has issued the following Pastoral guidelines in the preparation for public Mass celebrations. This is provided for informational purposes only.
THE COMMON GOOD IS OUR PRIORITY — Our first consideration must be for the health and safety of our parishioners and those whom they will encounter. This is especially true for the most vulnerable members of our populations, including the elderly and those with chronic illnesses. Let’s admit to ourselves that while we as clergy, liturgists, and musicians have expertise on liturgical practices and sacramental theology, we must rely on medical personnel and scientists to give the best advice in these matters.
DEFINE POLICIES IN PHASES — We suggest that policies and guidelines be implemented in phases. Each phase should be clearly delineated with dates (e.g., July 31) or benchmarks of medical advances (e.g., when tests indicate that new cases are below ten or when a vaccine is available). This will assure consistent practice throughout a diocese or county. Moreover, this makes clear that any variation from normal liturgical practice will be temporary.
CONTINUE TO OFFER TELEVISED MASSES – The continuation of live-streamed liturgies is of benefit to those who are homebound, sick, or otherwise vulnerable.
CONSIDER EXTENDING DISPENSATION FROM SUNDAY OBLIGATION — While we recognize that many are eager to return to Mass in our churches, it remains important for those who are elderly and otherwise at risk to refrain from returning to public liturgies until it is manifestly safe to do so. All the faithful — especially those who are sick, at high risk of becoming sick, and their caregivers, may, by decree of their diocesan (arch)bishop, continue to be dispensed from their Sunday obligation until a time certain (See Code of Canon Law nos. 1245, 1248.2).
PRESERVE THE LITURGICAL YEAR – Even in the darkest days of the pandemic, the Holy Father and his Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments made clear that Easter would not be “postponed.” Liturgical seasons preceded it and followed it. Similarly, the entire course of the liturgical year is to be maintained and the primacy of Sunday is to be respected (General Norms for the Liturgical Year and the Calendar, 4; Catechism of the Catholic Church 2177).
COMMUNICATION IS KEY — Whenever directives are initiated or updated, they should be communicated to all the faithful. While clergy and parish staffs may be the first line of communication, the instructions should be clearly communicated to every parishioner. This might come in the form of a letter from the Bishop or pastor, a video posted on the diocesan or parish website, and/or an e-mail blast to every household. Be sure to also communicate with specific groups, e.g., the Parish Council, liturgical ministers, school parents, senior citizen groups, nursing home residents, youth groups, etc. This allows each parishioner to take ownership of the endeavor and to feel like they are part of the effort to keep everyone safe.
THINK LONG TERM – Understandably, everyone is anxious to return to normalcy. But the threat of the coronavirus is still very much with us. Even now, some areas of the country continue to experience new cases and increased fatality rates. Social distancing, the wearing of masks, and increased cleaning procedures will be with us for a very long time. This will certainly impact the way we worship and the rituals which are a vital part of our faith.
Our Lady of the Assumption Church
Rev. Edward C. Domme, Pastor
811 Guaymas Place NE
Albuquerque, NM 87108
Parish Office (505)256-9818