Saturday, March 14, 2020

Archdiocese of Washington Closes Catholic Schools and Public Masses and Encourages Spiritual Communion Prayers


Archdiocese of Washington Catholic Schools Closed and Masses Cancelled Beginning Saturday, March 14, 2020 
WASHINGTON, D.C. – In the interest of public health and safety, Governor Larry Hogan and state superintendent, Dr. Karen Salmon, announced today, March 12, that all Maryland schools must close (also cancelling ALL school-related activities) from March 16 through March 27 in response to the COVID-19 (coronavirus) in our area. As a result of this order, Archbishop Gregory has indicated that all Catholic Schools in the Archdiocese of Washington will be closed from March 16 through March 27.
Additionally, the State of Maryland has ordered that no public gatherings in excess of 250 people may be held until further notice. As a result of this order, Archbishop Gregory has indicated Masses open to the public, in ALL archdiocesan parishes, missions, and campus ministries will not be celebrated starting this Saturday, March 14 until further notice. Weddings and funerals may proceed but attendance should be limited to immediate family.
Archbishop Gregory has also issued a dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass during this time to all parishioners of the Archdiocese of Washington.
“We are aware of the rapidly developing district and state guidelines regarding the coronavirus.  My number one priority as your Archbishop is to ensure the safety and health of all who attend our Masses, the children in our schools, and those we welcome through our outreach and services. Please know that this decision does not come lightly to close our schools or cancel Masses,” Archbishop Gregory said. “We are profoundly saddened that we are not able to celebrate our sacraments as a community for the time being but we know Christ remains with us at all times – specifically in times of worry like this.”
“I have made available pastoral and spiritual resources as well as TV Mass on our website that I encourage you to use. I also invite you to join us for Mass and prayer via livestream in our social media.” Archbishop Gregory continued. “May the peace of Christ settle any anxieties and fear we may have. Let us continue to pray for the people whose lives have been impacted by the coronavirus as well as those who continue to care for them.”
Please visit adw.org/coronavirus for the latest updates.

Coronavirus dispensation and prayers
Many people feel powerless in the face of this pandemic. We see in a devastating way how widely a virus spreads person to person. We have confidence that God allows the good that we do, our prayer and our actions, to make a positive impact on brothers and sisters. As Pope Francis encourages us, “Let us call upon him today, firmly rooted in prayer, for without prayer all our activity risks being fruitless and our message empty.” (Evangelii Gaudium, no. 259)
This page is intended to provide helpful guidance to Catholics in the Archdiocese of Washington regarding participation in Sunday Mass during the Coronavirus pandemic. A PDF containing this information is available to download here to help parishes communicate this information to parishioners.
What is a Dispensation from Mass?
A dispensation from the diocesan Bishop releases Catholics from fulfilling their Sunday obligation (Mass). Since public Masses are cancelled in the Archdiocese of Washington until further notice, this means that if you live in the Archdiocese of Washington, the right thing to do is to stay home for your safety and the safety of others. Though there is a sadness for not being able to participate at Mass, one should not feel guilty for not going to Mass. You have a free conscience to stay home. Catholics are encouraged to offer up their sickness or pastoral care for the sake of those who are seriously ill and for those who have died.

What Should I do if I Can’t go to Mass?

Catholics are encouraged to make a ‘spiritual communion’. St. John Paul II writes that “it is good to cultivate in our hearts a constant desire for the sacrament of the Eucharist. This was the origin of the practice of ‘spiritual communion’, which has happily been established in the Church for centuries and recommended by saints who were masters of the spiritual life. Saint Teresa of Jesus wrote: ‘When you do not receive communion and you do not attend Mass, you can make a spiritual communion, which is a most beneficial practice; by it the love of God will be greatly impressed on you.’” (Ecclesia Eucharistia, no. 34) Catholics in the archdiocese are also encouraged to watch our local TV Sunday Mass. The Mass airs every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. on WDCW-50 and through free online streaming at adw.org/tvmass.

How Do I Make a Spiritual Communion?

Below are recommendations for how to make a ‘spiritual communion’ when unable to participate in the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. The recommendations can be adapted based upon personal and family needs.
  • Gather with others in your household and begin a time of prayer with the sign of the cross.
  • Take time to read and reflect upon the readings from Sunday Mass. You can find the readings at usccb.org and a Sunday Gospel reflection on our YouTube channel. Additionally, a weekly televised Sunday Mass is available to watch at adw.org/tvmass.
  • Share prayer intentions quietly or aloud.
  • Pray the Lord’s Prayer.
  • Pray one of the following prayers of spiritual communion (see below).
  • Close with the sign of the cross.

Prayer to the Most Holy Redeemer (Anima Christi)

Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, embolden me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within thy wounds hide me.
Never permit me to be parted from you.
From the evil Enemy defend me.
In the hour of my death call me.
and bid me come to thee,
that with your saints I may praise thee
for age upon age.
Amen.


Prayer to our Lord Jesus Christ Crucified
Behold, O good and loving Jesus, that I cast myself on my knees before you and, with the greatest fervor of spirit, I pray and beseech you to instill into my heart ardent sentiments of faith, hope and charity, with true repentance for my sins and a most firm purpose of amendment. With deep affection and sorrow I ponder intimately and contemplate in my mind your five wounds, having before my eyes what the prophet David had already put in your mouth about yourself, O good Jesus: They have pierced my hands and my feet; they have numbered all my bones (Ps. 21: 17-18). The above prayers can be found in the Manual of Indulgences for those who make “an act of spiritual communion” and are prayers of thanksgiving in the Roman Missal. The Manual of Indulgences indicates that a partial indulgence is granted to the faithful who recite one of these prayers.

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