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. This will take effect in the Dioceses of Ohio the weekend of June 5-6, 2021.
As has always been the case, those who are ill, have significant health risk factors or care for someone who is immuno-compromised or ill, are exempt from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation, as well as those who have significant fear or anxiety of contracting the coronavirus in a large group of persons (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2181).
Liturgical Guidelines – Effective June 5
Masks and facial coverings are not required. The personal decision by some members of the clergy or the faithful to continue wearing masks/facial coverings while offering Mass should be respected out of charity. Any signage indicating that the wearing of masks/facial coverings is required should be removed. All are reminded that masks/facial coverings are never to be placed on the altar or ambo.’
Seating will not be limited
Social distancing is not required. All seating areas are to be opened up and anything limiting rows/pews/sections is to be removed. According to pastoral need, a designated socially distanced area may be provided for those who prefer such seating.
Baptismal fonts and Holy Water stoops are to be filled once again with blessed water. Holy Water fonts without filters, or fresh water access, and stoops should continue to be cleaned on a regular basis.
Sign of Peace
The Sign of Peace may be reinstated. The faithful should be reminded/catechized that this simple ritual act is meant to be given to those nearest them and they should refrain from exiting their seats/pews to extend the Sign of Peace to others located throughout the church. The faithful should also be reminded that the Sign of Peace does not necessarily imply physical touch with others. Some members of the faithful may still be reluctant to extend/receive a physical Sign of Peace and their preference for no physical contact should be respected.
The Lord’s Prayer
The faithful should be reminded/catechized to refrain from physical contact (handholding) during the Lord’s Prayer, a gesture that is not prescribed in the Roman Missal. This moment is an opportunity to explain to the faithful of those congregations where this practice has become a custom that such a practice should be permanently discontinued. Extending hands during the Lord’s Prayer is reserved to the Priest Celebrant and concelebrating Priests only who pray together with the people (General Instruction of the Roman Missal, 237).
A full complement of liturgical ministers (altar servers, lectors, ushers, musicians, cantors, choirs) may be reinstated.
Reception of Holy Communion
The reception of Holy Communion (Sacred Host) either on the hand or on the tongue remains the prerogative of the communicant (Norms for the Distribution and Reception of Holy Communion under Both Kinds, 41).
Hymnals, missalettes, worship aids, etc. may once again be utilized.
Exemptions from Mass Attendance and Broadcasts of Mass
Those who have a serious reason, the sick and infirmed as well as those with pre-existing conditions, those who are incapable of physically attending Mass, and those who care for someone who is immuno-compromised are exempt from attending Mass on Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. They should, however, make every effort to watch a broadcast of Mass from their homes. Members of the faithful who choose not to attend Mass in person out of significant fear or anxiety of contracting the coronavirus in a large group of persons are also exempt from their obligation (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2181). Nevertheless, these persons should observe the Lord’s Day (Code of Canon Law, can. 1247) and are encouraged to spend time in prayer on Sunday, through viewing a broadcast of the Sunday Mass. Masses that are broadcast are not intended as a substitute for persons who are able to gather for the celebration of the Sacred Liturgy on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation. They are intended for the sick, homebound, the imprisoned, etc., who are unable to attend Mass in person. Parishes are encouraged to continue or begin the commendable practice of providing live-stream broadcasts of their Masses/liturgies on social media for those who cannot physically attend Mass.