How fitting that on this Memorial Day weekend we find ourselves standing up for our freedoms, especially our freedom to publicly practice our religious beliefs. The bishops of Minnesota, along with a number of other faith leaders, in a statement dated May 20th, have voiced our conviction that the life of faith is essential to our society and that our religious freedoms are fundamental to the health of our country. Within reasonable boundaries, they have developed a plan for us to return to worship in larger numbers. They write: “Given the well-researched protocols that we have proposed (and that they are being followed successfully elsewhere in our nation) how can reason require us any longer to keep our faithful from the Eucharist?” And elsewhere: “The bishops of Minnesota are united in our conviction that we can safely resume public Masses in accordance with both our religious duties and with accepted public health and safety standards.”
While following the strict protocols that have been developed in consultation with the Department of Public Health and the Department of Public Safety, they have allowed us as of Tuesday, May 26th, to resume the public celebration of Holy Mass with attendance limited to one-third of the seating capacity of the church. We will continue to practice safety protocols at Masses, including social distancing and frequent sanitation. Please arrive early for Mass so that we can discuss the adaptations we have undertaken for worship at this time.
All Catholics remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Holy Mass, and those who are sick or who are especially vulnerable are to remain at home. We will continue to broadcast our liturgies via radio and internet media for those who choose to participate from home. Remember also the option to attend Mass outdoors at our sister parish of St. Lawrence in Rush Lake on Sunday. If you have a particular concern about attending Mass under the present conditions, feel free to contact me directly at 218-298-2030, and we will explore our options together.
We will continue to be flexible as the situation develops, but for now we are joyful to be able to gather again in the presence of our Lord Jesus Christ and worship Him as one Body. We ask that you prayerfully consider your options for Holy Mass, prudently decide whether or not to remain at home and participate via internet or radio, and continue to pray for our Church and our nation. For those who do attend, we ask that you comply with the instructions of our ushers and ministers for the health and safety of others, and participate with mutual understanding and kindness in all things. To again quote our bishops, “We know that as we work together, we can provide for the essential sacramental life of our faithful, fulfill our duty to worship God, and do so in a way that also protects the common good of our state. (cf. Matthew 6:25-34).”
Please join me in expressing gratitude to our Bishop, Donald Kettler, for his prudence and courage during this crisis.
I am personally grateful for his patient responses to my questions and his willingness to think outside of the box for creative adaptations to our current situation. God’s goodness is greater than any virus. He will carry us through our journey here on earth; the promise of His Ascension is the heavenly life we look forward to at the end of this age. Be not afraid! I look forward to seeing you all again soon.