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Easter Friday Message from Bishop Boyea

A year ago, we were afflicted with a great scourge, the COVID-19 virus. Our lives were upturned. This included our spiritual lives. So as to ease our consciences, I, as your bishop, dispensed all in the Diocese of Lansing from the obligation to participate in Sunday and Holy Day Mass. This kind of dispensation prevailed throughout our country and the world. The primary aim of all our safety precautions was to "flatten the curve." It was never to get rid of the virus. That will remain with us for years. Rather, it was to make sure that our hospitals were not overwhelmed. In fact, hospitalizations are now down. And those most likely to be hospitalized, the 65 and older, are now vaccinated or able to be vaccinated. It is time for our believing community to gather again. Thus, as some of you will already know, as of Pentecost 2021, May 22-23, 2021, I am lifting the dispensation for the Diocese of Lansing. We are all now obliged to participate in Mass on Sundays and Holy Days. Over these next few weeks, let me offer some reflections on this for our meditation.

The first precept of the Church is "You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor" (Catechism #2042; see Canon 1247). This is a call for us to sanctify the Lord's Day by worshiping God in the Christian assembly and by resting "from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days" (Catechism #2042). This is a serious responsibility on the part of all the Faithful People of God "unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor" (Catechism #2181; see Canon #1245). Obviously, if it is impossible to fulfill this obligation, then it is not binding. When in doubt, speak with your pastor.

Further, it is fascinating that the real obligation of Sunday Mass is that we worship God. To worship God is to "acknowledge [the Lord] as Cod, as the Creator and Savior, the Lord and Master of everything that exists," and so "to praise and exalt [God] and to humble oneself" in his presence (Catechism #s 2096, 2097). Even as Jesus told the devil who was tempting him, "The Lord, your God, shall you worship and him alone shall you serve" (Matthew 4:10). Our Sunday Mass is not primarily about receiving the Eucharist though that is obviously a very important reason for participating in that Mass.

Some may say that they can worship God on their own. Certainly, there is truth to this. However, hear these words of Pope St. John Paul II, "it is not enough that the disciples of Christ pray individually and commemorate the death and Resurrection of Christ inwardly, in the secrecy of their hearts. Those who have received the grace of Baptism are not saved as individuals alone, but as members of the Mystical Body, having become part of the People of God. It is important therefore that they come together to express fully the very identity of the Church" (Dies Domini #31). Furthermore, we assemble as one because the Lord calls us to gather together.

It is in obedience to his summons that we join publicly in the celebration of his death and Resurrection.

Assuring you of my prayers, I am sincerely yours in Christ,

Bishop Earl Boyea, Bishop of Lansing

P.S. To welcome you and your loved ones back to Holy Mass, I am sending each of you a blessed candle representing, as it does, the Light of the World, Jesus Christ. For more, see your parish on Pentecost

Message from Fr. John

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ
 

Preparing for Pentecost
Next Weekend we celebrate Pentecost, the coming of the Holy Spirit to give birth to the Church. The Bishop has lifted the dispensation from Sunday Mass with the caveat that each pastor may dispense anyone from Sunday attendance for a serious reason including health concerns and the care for young children. Please let me know if you need this dispensation.
Ropes will be removed from all sections except the one closest to entrance to the church. This section will be reserved for those who would still like to have the comfort of the separation provided by the ropes. Wherever you sit, please maintain social distance from non-family members.

Vaccinations:
While our government leaders have strongly encouraged us to be vaccinated, there have been some concerns from a Catholic perspective. There have been some questions about which vaccination to use because of the moral implications. Each vaccine approved for distribution in the U.S. has some connection to abortion (in origin or testing). While I encourage all who are able to be vaccinated, I understand and share your concern. You may present a religious objection to the vaccines. However the duty to protect one’s own health and the duty to pursue the common good may justify your vaccination. With no alternatives available, you may receive them in good conscience.

IHM Plan for Increasing Mass attendance to 100% capacity

Beginning May 8 & 9, 2021 *lncrease capacity from 25% to 50%

*Half of the ropes will be removed beginning in the back.

*l\/laintain social distance with non-family members.

*Masks will still be required. Hand Sanitizer available as needed.

*Liturgical Ministers will be called back into service

*Limited congregational singing

*Mass will continue to be livestreamed May 22-23, 2021

Pentecost

*100% capacity, all ropes removed

*Masks optional for those fully vaccinated

*Full congregational singing.

*The section near the chapel will remain roped for those that prefer to maintain social distance.

Note: I will dispense anyone from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass due to serious health concerns or the need to care for infants. I ask for your patience as we implement this plan. While no plan is perfect, Sunday Mass is a necessity for our spiritual life, and I hope many of us feel comfortable coming back to Mass.

Please show patience and kindness to those who sit close to you. I recognize that this will be an adjustment for us all. This can be a great opportunity to practice these virtues and the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

 

Fr. John Byers, Pastor

 

 
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