UPDATED: Guidelines for limited public Masses

Archdiocese of Denver
UPDATED JUNE 4, 2020

As the Archdiocese of Denver continues to work to balance protecting the health and safety of our communities with ministering to the spiritual needs of our faithful, we have released updated guidelines for parishes for celebrating public Masses during this current public health pandemic.

The Archdiocese has worked with health experts, elected officials, and our priests, deacons, and parish staffs, to develop these protocols.

How the guidelines are implemented will vary parish to parish based on a number of factors including parish size, available facilities, and county-specific health orders. Please learn how your parish is operating during this time before going to a public Mass.

These guidelines are effective June 2, 2020. Below is an updated Q&A on the revised guidelines.

Who

A dispensation from the Sunday and Holy Day obligation to participate in the Mass remains in place for all Catholics in the Archdiocese of Denver until further notice. Anyone who is in an at-risk health group or does not feel comfortable attending a public gathering should stay home. Even with the best health practices and increased efforts to clean the Church, there is a risk of infection anytime a person enters a public space. Anyone who is sick or has recently been exposed to the coronavirus should refrain from attending a public Mass as it is an act of Christian charity to safeguard the health of others.

When

Attendance at Masses is being incrementally increased but will still be restricted to ensure proper social distancing. Capacity for services will be determined by the number of people who can be safely distanced from each other in any space and will be capped at 25 percent of a facility’s fire code. Because the Sunday obligation has been dispensed, people are encouraged to take advantage of weekday Masses. Each parish will determine its own scheduling and attendance procedures to try and create a fair opportunity for every parishioner to attend Mass.  It is important that you stay connected to your parish via the parish website, email, Flocknote, etc. Catholics 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 live stream Mass and making spiritual communion.

What

Social distancing will be practiced at all public Masses, and everyone is asked to follow the guidance of any usher or posted sign. Parishioners can expect for rows/pews to be roped off and for there to be a structured dismissal by section. Families who live together can sit together, but should be spaced more than 6-feet from other families.

Everyone is asked to wear a mask (except children 3 and under), and parishioners are encouraged to bring their hand sanitizer and/or sanitizing wipes.

There will also be TEMPORARY liturgical changes similar to those implemented during the early stages of this pandemic back in February and March. For those receiving Holy Communion, please follow the instructions of your pastor for lining up and receiving in a safe manner.

Where

Archbishop Aquila has granted a ‘Dispensation of Place’ for parishes to be able to utilize other spaces for Masses including gymnasiums, parish halls and outdoor spaces. Parishioners are asked to avoid congregating in entry ways and should be mindful of social distancing in narrow hallways, bathroom entrances, etc., especially if multiple spaces are being utilized.

How

We all long for the day when we can gather as a full parish family, hug our friends, and praise the Lord together, but until that time comes, let’s continue to act out of love and charity towards each other, and all do our part to keep our communities as safe and healthy as possible.

Please be patient as your pastor and parish staffs do their best to implement this guidance, especially if you have to wait a little longer for your turn to attend a public Mass.

We have all made many sacrifices over the last several months to benefit the common good, let’s not have those efforts be in vain if we rush this process or look for ways around the regulations.

Let’s keep our trust in the Lord, to see this through until we can gather again in full.

READ THE UPDATED GUIDANCE (PDF LINK)

A LETTER FROM OUR BISHOPS

VIDEO 1:
Before you return to Mass

VIDEO 2:
When you return to Mass

 

 

COMING UP: For Love of Country: A Catholic Patriotism

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Our country has been through a lot this last year, as we all know. As many people have reacted against the founding and history of the United States, I have found myself drawn towards greater patriotism. By this, I simply mean a deeper appreciation of what I’ve been given by my country and also a growing realization of the duty I have to work for the common good, here and now. The Catechism of the Catholic Church speaks of this duty under the fourth commandment that enjoins honor not only to parents but also to anyone in authority.   

It is the duty of citizens to contribute along with the civil authorities to the good of society in a spirit of truth, justice, solidarity, and freedom. The love and service of one’s country follow from the duty of gratitude and belong to the order of charity. Submission to legitimate authorities and service of the common good require citizens to fulfill their roles in the life of the political community (2239). 

Catholics, and all people of good will, are called to a love and service of country in order to work for the common good.  

Eric Metaxas argues that the future of our country depends precisely upon the active role of Christians in his book, If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty (Penguin, 2017). He describes something called the Golden Triangle, an idea he borrowed from Os Guinness, but which ultimately comes from the Founding Fathers. “The Golden Triangle of Freedom is, when reduced to its most basic form, that freedom requires virtue; virtue requires faith; and faith requires freedom. The three go round and round, supporting one another ad infinitum. If any one of the three legs of the triangle is removed, the whole structure ceases to exist” (54). John Adams, for example, related very clearly, “Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other” (quoted on 61). Metaxas comments, looking to specific examples around the world, “if you take God and faith and morality out of the equation, everything inevitably falls apart. It cannot be otherwise” (48). It cannot be otherwise. That may sound extreme, but we have many examples from Communist and Fascist countries and now even from movements within our country that aggressive secularism parallels a collapse of real freedom.  

The Constitution established an ordered liberty that requires responsibility and a determined effort of preservation. Hence the title of the book, taken from Benjamin Franklin, a republic “if you can keep it.” We are called to actively preserve our country: entering into a deeper understanding of the “idea” of America that undergirds the Republic as well as showing a loving determination to overcome challenges and threats to its continuance. This is not to whitewash the past, as we all know the injustices of our history. Metaxas argues that we can be grateful for the good and unique blessings of our heritage while also working to overcome failures. “To truly love America, one must somehow see both sides simultaneously” (226). Furthermore, by loving our country we are willing her good, drawing our own selves into the work for her good and helping her to be true to herself. “So that in loving America we are embodying her original intentions — we are indeed being America at her best — and in doing so we are calling her to her best, to be focused on doing all she can to fulfill the great promise which God has called her in bringing her into existence and shepherding her through trials and tribulations all these and centuries — and now” (235).  

As Catholics, we have a lot to offer our country by drawing from our rich intellectual and spiritual heritage. Michael Krom, a philosopher at St. Vincent College, provides us with a great resource in his new book, Justice and Charity: An Introduction to Aquinas’s Moral, Economic, and Political Thought (Baker, 2020). In an age of confusion, Catholics can bring greater clarity in our national discourse on the nature of human life, virtue, and politics. “We live in a time of ideological conflicts, in which the citizens of the nations of the modern world seem incapable of agreeing upon even the most basic of moral, economic, or political principles. Civil discourse has been replaced with violent protest, and reasoned dialogue with character assassination” (2). As Catholics, we should be able to look above all of this, literally: “While the Church does not force us to reject political citizenship, she demands that we direct it to the heavenly, and we can do that by heeding her call to engage the world rather than conform to it. I wrote this book out of the conviction that those who want to heed the Church’s call to engage our culture need to look to the past” (ibid.).  

Dr. Krom shows us that St. Thomas Aquinas has much to teach us about living the good life, in pursuit of a genuine freedom and happiness, and that this should inform a Catholic approach to economics and politics. It is hard to work for virtue if you don’t know what virtue really is, and difficult to act justly toward others if you don’t understand the nature of duty. Aquinas can help us to judge the direction of our country, as “a government cannot be called ‘good’ unless it promotes just moral and economic relationships between its citizens” (121). This is precisely the purpose of government — to promote right order and peace. We can’t just dispense with politics because, “the fact that humans find their fulfillment in political community means that situating their own good with the good of the community as a whole is central to happiness” (125). We are not isolated individuals and can’t attain a good and complete life on our own.  

Our ultimate good, however, is God, not the political life. Everything — all of our choices, including economic and political ones — must be directed to our ultimate goal. There are not “two ends to human existence, the earthly and the heavenly … [T]here is only one end, the beatific vision” (162). In this way the Church informs our citizenship. Krom explains “how inadequate this human law is as a teacher in the virtues, for it is limited in scope to the prevention of those vices from which even the wicked can refrain, and thus leaves those who seek after perfect virtue to their own devices … [H]uman law is in need of a higher law to truly bring about a just community” (155). Unfortunately, we’re seeing that our society is no longer even trying to prevent serious vice. Catholics and all believers have an important role to play, because “the lack of religion in the citizenry leads it down the path of totalitarianism. It Is absolutely critical that a people maintain a strong commitment to a transcendent measure of the common good in order to protect the true flourishing of its members” (171). Krom’s important work on justice and charity can teach us how a Catholic can exercise a proper patriotism, a true love of country.