-Those for whom attending Mass would pose greater than normal risk, either to themselves, to their families and others with whom they have contact, or to those attending Mass, whether the source of the additional risk is their age, health, possible recent exposure, difficulty in observing social distancing guidelines and other hygienic measures, or any other cause, gauged in proportion to the gravity of the obligation in question.
-Those who attempt to attend Mass but, due to the limitations on church capacity imposed by ecclesiastical or civil authority, are either unable to enter the church or else upon arrival voluntarily abstain from doing so in order that others may attend, even if it would be possible to attend another Mass without extreme difficulty.
In the public statement from the Diocese to the faithful, the parameters of the dispensation were summarized as “the elderly, the immunodeficient, and those who are still at increased risk may refrain from Sunday Mass attendance, without committing sin.” It is important to note that a dispensation has always been in place for those who are ill or have to care for infants.
What is the significance of the lifting of the general dispensation? The public statement said the following: “We need the very real and sacred nourishment of the Mass.” We need the sacraments, especially the Eucharist, to strengthen us on our journey of faith. God’s grace, which is richly abundant in the sacraments, is needed to change us, to heal us, to strengthen us. Watching Mass on television or by livestream cannot make up for the sacrament. Recognizing this spiritual need, the bishop encouraged to come to Mass “those who can do so safely and securely.” You are invited to come to the Mass, with the understanding that the safety protocols set forth by the civil and ecclesiastical authorities are still observed.
If you have questions and concerns about the dispensation, you are invited to check out the “frequently asked questions” section of the COVID-19 update on the diocesan website (madisondiocese.org). As your pastor, I invite you to reach out to us. Members of the parish staff and I are happy to speak with you concerning this.