Monday, October 12, 2020

A timely question and answer about Mass dispensation during this pandemic


Is it a sin to miss livestreamed Mass under a dispensation?

Kevin and Tiffany Dickinson of Fayetteville, Ark., watch a livestream Mass with their children celebrated by Father John Connell from St. Raphael Church in nearby Springdale March 29, 2020. (CNS photo/Travis McAfee, Arkansas Catholic)

Msgr. Charles PopeQuestion: Given the dispensation we are under, do we commit sin if we do not participate in the livestreamed Mass on Sunday?

— Paul VanHoudt, Erie, Colorado

Answer: No, unless the local bishop has made watching a televised or recorded Mass a requirement, one does not commit a sin by failing to do so. Most bishops simply suspended the obligation to go to Mass as permitted in canon law. Most bishops certainly encouraged the faithful to keep Sunday as a day of special prayer. They could do this in ways deemed appropriate and possible for them. Hence, watching a televised Mass, or reading the Sunday readings reflectively, saying special prayers, novenas or devotions, and making a spiritual communion with the Lord, were ways to do this encouraged by bishops.

But to encourage is not the same as to require. Hence it is not sin if some or all of these things are omitted. To be avoided, however, is an attitude that casts aside all prayer or devotion on Sundays where Mass is not possible. If one can watch a televised or recorded Mass, why not do so? That it is not precisely required makes doing so an even greater act of faith. For a few, watching a televised Mass may not be advantageous, but surely some special time of prayer seems important and something that should be done even if not under pain of sin.

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