Guidance for Public Liturgies on
Revised Directives and Guidance for the
Diocese of Youngstown ~ May 2021
THE OBLIGATION TO ATTEND SUNDAY MASS
In light of improving circumstances, a reduction in infections, and more people being
vaccinated, the Bishops of Ohio have decided that the general obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days is to be reinstated on June 5-6, 2021. The following revised Directives and Guidance for Public Liturgies on Sunday and Weekday Mass is issued for all parishes in the Diocese of Youngstown following the latest revised directives from the CDC and State of Ohio.
Those who are ill, have significant health risk factors or care for someone who is
compromised or ill, are exempt from attending Mass on Sunday and Holy Days
as well as those who have significant fear or anxiety of contracting the
coronavirus in a large group of people.
These should observe the Lord’s Day and are encouraged to spend time in
prayer on Sunday, meditating on the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection. An
appropriate way to do this is through viewing a broadcast of Sunday Mass.
NOTE: Mass that is broadcast through various media, including live-stream, is not
intended as an alternative nor does it fulfill the obligation for persons who are able to
gather for a Sunday celebration and other Holy Days. They are intended for the
sick, homebound, imprisoned etc. who are unable to attend Mass in person.
Every effort should be made to return Sunday/weekday worship to a style that
promotes the full, active, and conscious participation of all in attendance as called for by the liturgy and expected by the People of God while maintaining a reasonably safe and comfortable environment. To that end, the following specific considerations can be implemented:
Facial Coverings: Those who are fully vaccinated are no longer required to
wear facial coverings and social distance while at worship.
Seating: All seating restrictions are removed. Although not required, a section
of seating, for the time being, might be retained for social distancing based on
the desire of those attending and pastoral judgment.
Music/Singing: Hymnals, choirs and other instruments can return and singing
at Mass can resume.
Collection/Procession of Gifts: The use of traditional long-handed baskets or
the passing of individual baskets through the assembly can resume. The
procession of gifts –bread, wine and offertory collection– can resume, however
consideration might be given to continue covering the hosts. If this option is
used the coverings for the plate/ciboria should be of quality and dignity.
Cellophane or paper napkins should be avoided.
Distribution of Holy Communion: Other than as Viaticum to the critically ill,
Holy Communion is to be given in the context of Mass or outside of Mass
according to an approved rite (i.e. Liturgy of the Word with Holy Communion). The
distribution of Holy Communion at any other time (i.e. immediately after Mass,
before Mass etc.) rather than during Mass is prohibited. Ministers of Holy
Communion should continue to discreetly sanitize hands before distributing.
Distribution of Holy Communion on the tongue: Ministers of Holy
Communion should respect the way the communicant desires to receive the
host. For the time being, it is suggested, that those wishing to receive on the
tongue continue to receive from the priest.
In an effort to maintain a reasonable sense of comfort and to alleviate any undue stress
or anxiety among those in attendance, the following remain in effect with the hope of
their gradual reintroduction to the liturgy in the coming weeks as people become more comfortable.
Sign of Peace: The Sign of Peace is not suspended just the gesture of shaking
hands. The spoken invitation to offer a sign of peace continues and those
present are encouraged to bow to others and offer words of peace. Those from
the same household can offer a more expressive gesture.
Reception of the Precious Blood: At the present time, the current environment
suggests that reintroducing the reception of the Precious Blood from the chalice
by the assembly is not prudent. It is hoped, over time and with improving
circumstances, an appropriate and proper reintroduction of the reception of the
Precious Blood by the faithful will be possible.
Pastors are encouraged to reassess the circumstances of their parish community in the
coming weeks. Further guidance will be provided by the Office of Worship as merited
Bishops of Ohio announce lifting of dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays, holy days of obligation
May 13, 2021
As we move beyond the worst of the coronavirus pandemic and access to the COVID-19 vaccine has become more widespread, the time has arrived for the good of all the faithful when the general dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation is no longer necessary.
Together, the Bishops of Ohio have decided that the general obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation (including the Saturday/Vigil Mass) is to be reinstated (CIC, can. 1247).
This will take effect in each of the Dioceses of Ohio the weekend of June 5-6, 2021.
As has always been the case, those who have a serious reason are exempt from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2181). This includes those who are ill, have significant health risk factors or care for someone who is immuno-compromised or ill, as well as those who have significant fear or anxiety of contracting the coronavirus in a large group of persons. Nevertheless, these persons should observe the Lord’s Day (CIC, can. 1247) and are encouraged to spend time in prayer on Sunday, meditating on the Lord’s passion, death and resurrection; an appropriate way to do this is through viewing a broadcast of the Sunday Mass. Masses that are broadcast through various media are not intended as a substitute nor do they fulfill the obligation for the persons who are able to gather for a Sunday celebration and other Holy Days of Obligation. Instead, they are intended for the sick, homebound, the imprisoned, etc., who are unable to attend Mass in person. Kindly consult your pastor with any specific questions regarding the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation.
The book of Exodus reminds us to keep holy the Sabbath day (Exodus 20: 8-10). As Catholics, we are invited by God to gather together in community, and participate fully in the Sunday Eucharist, which is the “source and summit of the Christian life.” “Participation in the communal celebration of the Sunday Eucharist is a testimony of belonging and of being faithful to Christ and to his Church. The faithful give witness by this to their communion in faith and charity. Together they testify to God’s holiness and their hope of salvation. They strengthen one another under the guidance of the Holy Spirit” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2182).
The obligation to attend Mass on Sunday and Holy Days is not something God asks of us out of his own necessity to be worshipped, but rather a gift to the faithful for their spiritual well-being, eternal salvation and formation in our relationship with God and one another. To that end, St. John Vianney rightly asserts, “There is nothing so great as the Eucharist. If God had something more precious, He would have given it to us.” The Eucharist is the greatest gift Christ left to the Church — the gift of Himself. There is no substitute for Mass celebrated in person.
We are profoundly grateful to our pastors and all of the faithful for their flexibility, fidelity and great generosity in support of the mission of the Church throughout this unprecedented time. As we prepare for the reinstatement of the obligation to attend Mass, we are excited once again to gather together in person without restrictions in our parish churches, most fittingly on the Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ. As we reflect on our Lord’s goodness and mercy in the midst of the sacrifices made during the coronavirus pandemic, we ask St. Joseph to intercede for us, that through his fatherly protection and care, we may experience a renewal of faith in the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist.
We welcome you back with great joy and eagerness!
The Most Rev. Dennis M. Schnurr
Archdiocese of Cincinnati
The Most Rev. Edward C. Malesic
Diocese of Cleveland
The Most Rev. Robert J. Brennan
Diocese of Columbus
The Most Rev. Jeffrey M. Monforton
Diocese of Steubenville
The Most Rev. Daniel E. Thomas
Diocese of Toledo
The Most Rev. David J. Bonnar
Diocese of Youngstown