Dear Parishioners of Saint Monica Parish,
I am sending you the majority of a letter sent to priests and deacons yesterday by Archbishop Carlson. Please, during these trying times, may we all support each other in prayer.
From the Archbishop, with some edits for our parish:
- All Catholics within the Archdiocese of St. Louis are dispensed from their obligation to attend Sunday Mass for the next three weekends (March 14-15, March 21-22 and March 28-29).
As with the Lenten practice of abstinence, the Archbishop reminds the faithful to exercise good judgement and not “excuse themselves lightly” from their obligation. Churches will remain open, and Mass schedules will remain mostly unchanged. Please be aware of the recommendations of crowd size from the City of St. Louis (no more than 1,000 people) and St. Louis County (no more than 250 people). Daily Masses will continue at St. Monica as they are generally not as crowded and parishioners can keep adequate distances apart. The Archbishop will continue to monitor official health advisories and update these directives accordingly.
- We urge everyone who is sick, elderly or vulnerable because of a medical condition to remain at home. Please understand that Mass schedules and availability, as well as parish and diocesan events, may change—especially if any priests might be affected by illness. There are no scheduling changes at St. Monica as of now. I will continue consult the Archdiocese of St. Louis regarding any major decisions of concern for the parish.
- Catholics who attend Holy Mass are not required to receive Holy Communion more than once per year. No one is under any obligation to receive nor distribute Holy Communion. Catholics who choose to temporarily refrain from receiving Holy Communion may make an act of Spiritual Communion, uniting themselves worthily to our Lord’s true presence in the Most Holy Eucharist through prayer.
Directly from the Archbishop: “We strongly recommend that parishioners receive Holy Communion in the hand. Holy Communion distributed by extraordinary ministers will be administered in the hand only. However, as this is a celebration of God’s love for us and the most important part of our Mass, parishioners who still wish to receive Holy Communion on the tongue should receive from the Mass celebrant or concelebrant only. Any of our faithful who decide to receive on the tongue should not be refused by the Mass celebrant or concelebrant.”
- We are continuing to suspend the physical exchange of the sign of peace. Use a hand gesture or bow instead. Consider suspending the sign of peace altogether during this time. Priests can omit the words “Let us offer each other the sign of peace.”
- Sacrament of Reconciliation: It is recommended that the Sacrament of Penance be celebrated using a screen (anonymously) to ensure the health department’s social distancing guidelines. We will continue to have confessons on Saturday and Wednesday from 3:30 to 4:30 each week.
- Parish retreats and other group parish activities: The Archdiocese of St. Louis recommends postponing retreats and other group activities/gatherings until further notice. Unfortunately the men’s ACTS retreat scheduled for the end of the month is being cancelled.
- Collections: Essential to the continued operation of our parishes and their missions, the Archbishop asks that you use online giving, drop-off, or mail your contributions.
Again, from the Archbishop, “God be with you as we navigate these difficult waters and look forward to the peace and stability offered to us in the Resurrection of Our Lord.”
Bottom line, please be prudent and please pray for all who might be affected by this disease.
Fr. Joe Weber