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Catholic masses will continue, but sick people are allowed to stay home, cardinal says

The Dorchester Reporter reports on Cardinal Sean O'Malley's Covid-19 announcement.

Communion will still be distributed at Masses, but O'Malley said that the church would be "temporarily suspending distribution of communion on the tongue and invite the faithful to reverently receive the Eucharist in their hand."

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This is irresponsible on their part. It is one thing to have MASS but they do not need to give out Communion in its current form. It is all symbolic anyway. There must be other ways rather than have everyone get communion in long lines from the same person...

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Maybe I should have included this part, but I'm not trying to simply reprint somebody else's work, but, yes, they are making changes to communion.

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All the churches I know have been giving out communion by placing the host in people's hands for many years.

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"It is all symbolic anyway." The Doctrine of Transubstantiation is central the the Catholic understanding of the Eucharist. To the believing Catholic, there is nothing symbolic about it.

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The issue is precisely that it’s NOT symbolic.

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Oooh! Ooooh! I have the opportunity to summarize two+ millennia of theology, doctrine, etc... and its impact on history, civilization and events in one combox!

....but I wouldn't want to be accused of mansplaining.

Suffice to say: transubstantiation. It's a thing. It's a miracle thing, in fact - defies any analysis that depends on deconstructing it and being able to duplicate it. To a Catholic (and others of like belief) - Communion isn't a symbol, it's the real thing.

One of the other options is that while there is the obligation to attend Mass each Sunday (in the absence of other circumstances as already discussed), there isn't actually an obligation to receive Communion or even to offer it each Sunday. Catholics have an Easter Duty - to receive worthily at least once between Easter and Pentecost (or is that between Ash Wednesday and Pentecost?). Anyway, the archbishop (or even a local priest in some sort of urgent circumstances, I think) could decide to have Mass and not distribute Communion to the congregation - the priest does need to receive.

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For Protestants, the bread and wine is symbolic.
For Catholics, the bread and wine is the real thing (It's the actual body and blood of christ).

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“It is all symbolic anyway.” No, not to the believing Catholic. The doctrine of trans-substantiation terms it anything but symbolic.

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I don't get it. The Catholic Church is not a governmental authority. What power do they possess to allow people to stay home or not? (Unless the headline is referring to its employees, but I don't think it is.)

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There is the obligation to attend Mass on Sunday (or Saturday night for Sunday). People are excused from that obligation if they are too sick to be out, or would be at risk of passing disease to others, or obligated as care-giver for somebody else with no relief option. This statement was just reminding folks about that second part.

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Exactly. My grandparents were very Catholic and had to be told it was ok to eat meat on Fridays if they are over 70 and need the protein or that it was ok to eat a traditional Irish stew on Saint Patricks Day if it fell on a Friday. While many of us do not understand it, that was their reality and it is important that we recognize how others tick even if we do not agree with why they do.

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Will they be limiting the size of masses?

I know that some states have banned gatherings of more than a specific number of people, but that doesn't likely apply to church services (for obvious reasons).

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That could happen.

It's happening or has been suggested in some of the hot zones in Europe.
A couple of US dioceses made statements yesterday. Many did, most similar to the Boston announcement, but a couple specifically discontinued Masses. I'd have to go look it up - I want to say Seattle announced some strong measures (which makes some sense with Washington having been an early US hot spot) and Little Rock (which I don't know any of the background of their situation)

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...and now changes here in Boston as of ~4:30 pm

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Are any Catholic parishes doing the same thing for Masses?

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Yes, Mass is broadcast live on the Catholic Channel every week for those unable to attend in person.

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There are a few existing options for televised Masses and online as well, both weekdays and Sunday.

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CatholicTV is the local outfit, with studio in Watertown. They're carried on some local cable systems. Their Mass goes out on cable in the morning and is available on their own website in evening.
EWTN is a big Catholic network available on most cable systems. They have weekday and Sunday Mass broadcasts.
You can probably find others online. Some cable or broadcast stations in some places carry the feed of the Sunday Mass at Saint Patrick's Cathedral in NYC or the Basilica at University of Notre Dame.

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CATHOLIC TV DAILY AND SUNDAY MASS
Cardinal Seán encourages Catholics to participate in the daily and Sunday Masses broadcast from the CatholicTV chapel.
Daily Mass airs live at 9:30 a.m. and is rebroadcast at 7 p.m. and 11:30 p.m.
Sunday Masses air throughout the day at 10 a.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m., and 11:30 p.m.
The Sunday Spanish Mass airs live at 8 a.m. and is rebroadcast at 5:30 p.m. and 10 p.m.
Viewers can watch these Masses on demand at any time at www.WatchtheMass.com. For more information about CatholicTV and where you can watch it, visit http://www.catholictv.org/.

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No doubt about it. I understand the desire of the faithful to keep attending every week, especially during a time of crisis. But I would strongly urge people to reconsider. I'm trying to convince my mother to stay home now. It's just not worth the risk.

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Church is a source of solace, comfort and community for many people. Maybe the only source.

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That's what makes this so heartbreakingly difficult.

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And I will not blame anyone for choosing to continue attending religious services. It's a no-brainer for me, but as I said above, I understand that it's not such an easy decision for many others. My girlfriend's dad is a Reverend at a church in one of our suburbs to the north. I'm very curious to see how he and his church are handling things.

My mom finally came around after reading the Cardinal's message. Specifically, it was his inclusion of age as a reasonable excuse to stay home. Her words: "I guess I have to acknowledge that I'm getting OLD!!!" Lol.

I also recommended UHub to her this morning as a great source of local info during these trying times, so if you're reading this Mom, hi!

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