The feeling of being in uncharted territory is one that many of us are experiencing these days. When I consulted with Bishops Berg and Sheridan this past March and jointly decided to suspend public Mass, I certainly felt that way.
In the months since then, we have gradually worked toward reopening our parishes and welcoming more people back to Mass. Throughout this time, I have prayed about how to best balance protecting everyone entrusted to me by the Lord and to honor the right of every person to receive the sacraments.
I have also been thinking about the need that each of us has for community. We are social beings who are made for community with each other, and ultimately, with the Holy Trinity and the communion of saints in heaven. I know that these months and weeks of taking precautions to protect the health of our community have been difficult for everyone, and I greatly appreciate all the sacrifices that have been made and will continue to be made.
I am happy to announce that parishes in the Archdiocese of Denver are now being encouraged to increase the number of people who can attend Mass, with respect to local restrictions. The dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass every Sunday will remain in place for the time being. That said, this is not a dispensation from keeping the Lord’s day holy. Eventually, when the obligation is restored, those who are at risk or are possibly infected will not be expected to attend Mass. Before this occurs, clear guidance will be given.
For these challenging days all of us need the gifts of faith, hope and charity. I am reminded of the story of Jesus walking on the water toward the disciples as they were tossed about by the sea. He came in the fourth watch of the night, which was between 3 and 6 a.m. As the disciples cried out in fright, he told them, “Take courage, it is I; do not be afraid.” And when St. Peter tried to walk on the water and began to sink, he shouted, “Lord, save me!” Jesus responded by catching him and saying, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” (Cf. Mt. 14:22-33).
Let us each ask the Lord for the gift of faith in his saving power, for hope in his goodness and love for us, and for hearts that love as he does. May you find inspiration and encouragement to continue your walk with Jesus and his Church at this particular moment in history. May God bless you!