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By Joe Heasley

A Word from Father Ed.

Alleluia.  Christ is risen,  truly risen.  Alleluia.

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

         This past week Mayor Hancock of Denver allowed the City and County of Denver’s pandemic stay at home order to expire.  Accordingly, Archbishop Aquila is permitting the public celebration of the Eucharist, although in compliance with Governor Polis’ Safer at Home orders regarding the same.  What does this mean for Notre Dame Parish and how are we moving forward?

First of all, the Vatican has reminded us that even in a pandemic there are certain theological and sacramental principles which we must respect when it comes to celebrating the Eucharist.  The first is that no one has the right (ecclesial or civil) to the Eucharist.  As St. John Paul II taught and Cardinal Sarah of the Vatican’s worship office affirms, the Eucharist (quoting the cardinal) is not a “right or a duty” but a gift freely given by God that must be welcomed with “veneration and love.”  The Eucharist is Jesus’ pure gift to the church (not to any single individual), a gift he can give or withdraw in accord with his unfathomable will and love.  Therefore, we must approach the Eucharist as pure gift, with grateful hearts, love, and reverently.  Furthermore, there are three liturgical principles which have guided my decision about scheduling more “public” Masses, namely, that the Eucharist be respected in its nature (what is essential to the celebration of the Eucharist must be respected in every celebration), that it be done in a reverent and holy manner, and that it be done according to the Church’s ritual norms for the same.  Regarding the first, there are four essential elements to any Eucharistic gathering, namely, 1) gathering with the church at the Lord’s altar-table; 2) Scripture and homily (Liturgy of the Word); 3) Communion (Liturgy of the Eucharist); and 4) dismissal to mission.  And what about Notre Dame’s present circumstances of time and place are most conducive to its reverential and venerable celebration?  Simply put, even in a pandemic how do we celebrate the Eucharist respectfully for what it is namely, Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross and his resurrection, a matter, in fact, about which at my priestly ordination I took a vow before the church and the archbishop when I promised to celebrate the sacraments as the church has handed them on to us.

With all this in mind, and having consulted our parish leadership (councils, staff, etc.), here is my decision.

We will celebrate five Sunday Eucharists, namely at 4:00p.m. Saturday (anticipated Mass) and four on Sunday.  The times of the four Sunday celebrations may change from week to week depending on the community of parishioners attending.

All Masses will be celebrated in the parish church.  I have concluded that we cannot celebrate the Eucharist reverently and venerably in one of our two parking lots, while sitting in our SUV’s and vans, or outdoors otherwise (for example, considering the variances of weather).  To me, celebrating Mass in our church engages two of the key elements of Eucharist, namely, gathering in a sacred space.

All Masses are limited to ten persons, in accord with the governor’s directives.  

I myself will invite persons to attend the Eucharist.  The “criteria” for the invitation is twofold, namely, 1) parishioners already active in parish life and participating in small Christian communities or ministries, for example, the phone call communities being built-up from our weekly parishioner calling, as well 2) persons for whom the Sunday celebration of the Eucharist is a key element of their spirituality, as identified by their regular coming on Saturday/Sundays to celebrate the Eucharist.  I acknowledge that I may not know of this matter in everyone’s life, so I invite you to let me know of your desire to celebrate the Eucharist with us one day. 

Parishioners will also be invited to the daily celebration of the Eucharist, which will be limited to ten persons.  For the foreseeable future, all daily Masses and the 8:00 a.m. Sunday Mass will continue to be live-streamed.

Additionally, Father Leopoldo and I will begin celebrating the sacrament of reconciliation this Saturday, May 9, from 8:30—10:30 a.m.  Here, too, safer at home and social distancing guidelines will be respected. 

I do regret that in all of this the total number of parishioners who are able to pray the Eucharist over the weeks and months ahead is limited, and that for the time being all of us will only be able to participate in only one time.  But, we are a pro-life church and parish, and so we will engage and adhere to all civic and health guidelines established by our democratically chosen leaders to keep us safe and healthy, we will not politicize the Eucharist, and we will grow stronger through this pandemic as baptized disciples of faith, families of virtue, and a church of love.

Alleluia.  Christ is risen, truly risen.  Alleluia.

                                                                           Father Ed 

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