There has been a good deal of discussion about the decision of Cardinal Cupich and other bishops to suspend the public celebration of Mass. It’s important to note that a “clarification” to the Cardinal’s initial statement has dispensed Catholics of the Archdiocese from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass. There are two aspects of this that I would like to unpack a bit.
When we first heard of Cardinal Cupich’s statement, one of the brothers, who had studied Canon Law last year, said, “It’s like we’re under an interdict!” An interdict is a statement that makes illicit the celebration of any sacraments in a certain region. This was a widely used canonical sanction in the Middle Ages, but is not very frequently invoked in the modern world. However, we are not under an interdiction. Mass is still being celebrated, for example, at the monastery. We are just not doing it publicly. The Cardinal has encouraged all diocesan priests to continue private Masses throughout this time of “isolation.”
What is of real importance to understand here is that we are all members of the One Body of Christ by baptism, and that the reception of Holy Communion by priests at their private Masses nourishes all the members of the Body by virtue of our unity. I have encouraged all of our monks to be aware of this, that our reception of Holy Communion during this time be done devoutly and worthily for the sake of the whole Church and the world.
We also continue to pray the divine office as usual. Our voices go up to God on your behalf, on behalf of all government officials who are trying to make the best decisions for their peoples’ welfare, for heroic health-care workers, and, of course, for all who are sick with the coronavirus.
The second aspect of the suspension of public Mass is that this doesn’t dispense us from the mandate of the Third Commandment, to keep the Sabbath holy. Sunday should remain a day dedicated to the Lord. One fruitful way of marking Sunday would be a fervent “spiritual communion.” Below I’ve posted a video that offers some good ideas for spiritual communion, and here is the traditional prayer that accompanies spiritual communion:
I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You. Amen.
Your brother in Christ,
Prior Peter, OSB