I want you to know that the decision to suspend the public celebration of the Eucharist was not made lightly. While the decision certainly has a major impact in our spiritual practice, the primary motivation for the decision is public health. Restricting large public gatherings – even for prayer or celebrating the sacraments – is about protecting the most vulnerable, the elderly and those with underlying health concerns. This decision is about slowing down the spread of a deadly virus by not gathering as congregations in small, enclosed spaces.
While the public celebration of the Eucharist is suspended, every priest is still celebrating the precious sacrament daily, and everyone is encouraged to make a spiritual communion. Christ is still present in and through the Church, and the precious gift of his Paschal Sacrifice is offered each day for the benefit of all.
Please know that I have granted a dispensation from the Sunday obligation to celebrate the Eucharist to all of you in the Archdiocese of Seattle.
As we experience this spiritual separation from one another, it is also an opportunity to offer this to the LORD as a part of our Lenten sacrifice. With all of the closures and cancellations being announced in the last 48 hours, we are learning that life is not going to be ‘as usual’ for the foreseeable future. As your pastor, I’m asking that we enter this new reality with renewed faith, and offer our many sacrifices to the LORD, that he may use them for his purpose and plans, which are always beyond our view and always for our good.
It is important to know that our churches remain open. You are invited and welcome to spend time in prayer before the Blessed Sacrament, while respectfully maintaining proper distance from others.
Please know as well that our priests are still available to parishioners who are in need. The decision to suspend public celebrations of the Eucharist is not about protecting the health of our priests – it is about public health. While priests are required to follow local health department guidelines, they still desire to do all in their power to provide the sacraments. At the same time, another reality that is very much on my mind and the minds of our priests, is that we ourselves do not want to unknowingly be transmitting the virus to others.
Many of us will be spending a greater time at home, and to some extent, will have more unscheduled time than we have experienced for quite some time. Please make sure to use this time well, and see it as an opportunity to renew your relationship with the LORD and with others. Social distancing should not translate into social isolation.
I invite you to join me Sunday at 10:00am Pacific Time for a livestream celebration of Mass on Facebook. Each of you and your intentions will be in my heart, mind and prayer during that celebration. Some of you have asked that we offer this through other outlets other than Facebook. While we look into what those options may include, please be patient with us.
As another means of spiritual communion during this time, I invite you to join me in praying the rosary these next three days as we continue to seek the intercession of Our Lady of Seattle for protection from this pandemic. Wherever you are, you can pray a rosary in communion with me and others at the following times:
Today, Friday, March 13 at Noon Pacific Time
Saturday, March 14 at 9:00am Pacific Time
Sunday, March 15 at 9:00am Pacific Time
Our Lady of Seattle, Pray for us.10