Dear Friends in Christ,
Illness and Mass Attendance
In the last couple of months, several people have had to leave the church during Mass because of a health problem, some under their own steam and some with assistance from others. Because several incidents have happened in a short time, it seems opportune to make these observations now.
While all Catholics have a grave moral duty to attend Mass each Sunday, those who are seriously ill are under no obligation to come to Mass, and if the one who is ill needs assistance, the caretaker is also dispensed from the normal obligation to attend Mass. God does not ask the impossible, so please use your best judgment in deciding when bad health requires you to stay home. And if you have a contagious malady that others may be exposed to if you come to Mass, then you have a duty not to come.
If you do begin to feel ill while in the church, please take action as soon as possible. Sit down if you are standing or kneeling. Tell someone with you or even your neighbor in the pew if you need assistance. The white door in the Lady Chapel leads directly to the sacristy with a water cooler and two comfortable chairs, and you should feel free to go there if you need to take a moment to recover. Also, our ushers are always available to assist those who cannot walk alone safely, so look for assistance if it is needed.
Finally, be sure to eat properly before you come to Mass. The required fast is not to eat for one hour before receiving Holy Communion, but water and medicine are permitted at all times. Moreover, no fast is required of those who are ill, those who are under 18, or those who are over 60. So again, please use your best judgment in deciding what and when to eat before coming to Mass. No benefit comes from a Eucharistic fast that endangers one’s health.
In the Acts of the Apostles we read that in the ten days between the Ascension of the Lord Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter announced to the approximately 120 Christians who were in Jerusalem that the Church needed to replace Judas Iscariot. Peter asked for nominations from among the men who had know the Lord Jesus during the three years of his public ministry, and two names were put forward. Then after praying for the intervention of God, they cast lots and chose Matthias to be an Apostle in place of Judas. The Feast of St Matthias is kept each year on 14 May, though not this year because the 14th falls on a Sunday, but still we give thanks for Saint Matthias who preached the Gospel in Judea and around the Caspian and Black Seas and gave his life in witness to the Lord Jesus Christ.