In light of the recent increase in COVID-19 cases and concerned raised by health care facilities about their ability to provide adequately for those afflicted by the Coronavirus, Bishop Earl Boyea has decreed that the faithful of the Diocese of Lansing will continue to be dispensed from the obligation to attend Holy Mass on Sundays and other Holy Days of Obligation until Tuesday, February 16, 2021, preceding the liturgical season of Lent.
“As previously provided, the faithful are reminded that while the Sunday obligation to attend Mass is dispensed, all are nevertheless obligated to keep the Lord’s day holy,” says Bishop Boyea in his decree issued on Friday, November 13, the Feast of Saint Frances Xavier Cabrini.
“It is especially recommended to engage in prayer, either personally or as a family (cf, can. 1248 §2), for example, by devoutly following a broadcast of the Sunday Mass by television, internet, or radio. Parishes are encouraged to continue to use the various means of social communications to maximize accessibility to the faithful.”
Bishop Boyea’s decree was issued just 48-hours before Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a new COVID-19 order through the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) under the authority of the Michigan Public Health Code to control the spread of an epidemic. The orders go into effect on Wednesday, November 18. Among other things, here is what the order most notably means for parishes within the Diocese of Lansing:
Public Masses: As in the past, all orders remain subject to constitutional protections, such as the free exercise of religion. In recognition of this, the new MDHHS order again includes an exemption from penalty for religious worship. Bishop Boyea has confirmed that public Masses – and sacraments and devotions – will continue under the present liturgical guidelines which accord with the highest standards of public health and hygiene relating to COVID-19. While remaining ever vigilant, it is worth noting that since the introduction of the guidelines in May there have been no known outbreaks of COVID-19 in any Diocese of Lansing parish. Deo gratias.
Non-liturgical public gatherings: Unlike past orders, which had allowed for various indoor gatherings subject to capacity limits, the new orders completely ban all non-residential indoor gatherings. Residential gatherings are limited to 10 persons, and no more than 2 households. Restaurants and bars are also now closed for indoor gatherings. In light of these new restrictions, parish halls will be closed and all parish gatherings prohibited. Outdoor gatherings of up to 25 people are permitted provided there is adequate space to social distance.
Catholic Schools: In short, the new order means that the Diocese of Lansing’s four regional high schools will be closed; however, all grade schools will remain open; although sports and extracurriculars are prohibited.
The order is set to expire on December 8 at 11:59 p.m. Our Lady of the Immaculate Conception, Patroness of the Diocese of Lansing, pray for us!