Last week the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey made the following joint statement:
We the Catholic Bishops of New Jersey, are lifting the dispensation of the Sunday and Holy Days Mass obligation beginning on Saturday, June 5, 2021, and Sunday, June 6, 2021, Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. We welcome the Christian faithful to return to the regular participation in the Sunday Eucharist, the source and summit of our Catholic faith (cf. Code of Canon Law canon 1247 and Catechism of the Catholic Church, n. 2180).
This obligation does not apply to those who are ill; those who have reason to believe that they were recently exposed to the coronavirus or another serious or contagious illness; those who are confined to their home, a hospital, or nursing facility; or those with serious underlying health conditions. One should consult the local pastor if questions arise about the obligation to attend Mass (canon 87).
Finally, safety protocols (such as wearing masks, social distancing, etc.) and liturgical directives in each New Jersey Diocese remains in place until modified or revoked by the respective Diocesan Bishop.
Some people have asked me whether or not they would have to attend mass if they are concerned about becoming ill. The answer is no since that would be considered a serious reason to miss mass. The Catechism of the Catholic Church says, “The Sunday Eucharist is the foundation and confirmation of all Christian practice. For this reason the faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor. Those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.” (CCC 2181)
Also, Governor Murphy has loosened the mandates on wearing masks and social distancing. Anyone who is vaccinated is no longer required to wear a mask, and that people are no longer required to practice social distancing in houses of worship. As of writing this on Tuesday, I am still waiting for the exact directives from the Bishop and these will be announced at Masses.
I do have two requests for all of you:
- First, please do not give anyone a hard time for wearing or not wearing a mask. If you see someone wearing a mask, please keep socially distant from them as well. We do not want to discourage anyone from coming to Mass, or make them feel unsafe.
- Second, please inform people you know that the permission to not attend Sunday mass has come to an end. We all know Catholics who previously practiced their faith who may be out of the loop since they stopped attending Church. So, it is up to all of us to inform our neighbors and invite people back to Church.
Overall, I am very happy for the changes because they are a good sign that the state of the pandemic is improving.