Bishop Kettler: Public Masses in diocese suspended through April 13

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

By Bishop Donald Kettler

After much prayer and consultation with members of my staff, and in light of the latest recommendations from state and federal health authorities for slowing the rapid spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) and protecting the people of our communities, I have made the difficult decision to suspend all public weekday and weekend Masses in the Diocese of Saint Cloud, effective immediately through Easter Monday, April 13. All Catholics in the diocese remain dispensed from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass during this time.

Further:

  • I will celebrate the Chrism Mass privately with the deans. They will distribute the holy oils to the parishes in their deaneries at a later time. We hope to livestream the Mass on our diocesan Facebook page.
  • Baptisms should be rescheduled. If a wedding needs to take place, a dispensation needs to be granted by the bishop. Funeral Masses during this time are prohibited; only graveside services are allowed. A memorial Mass should be scheduled for a later date after April 13.
  • Confirmations during this time period remain cancelled. My office will contact parishes to reschedule.
  • All public Holy Week liturgies, including Good Friday services, are cancelled. For specific details regarding liturgies, pastors should consult the “Liturgical Guidelines During the Time of Suspension of Masses” provided by the diocesan Office of Worship.
  • Our churches will remain open for prayer and the sacrament of reconciliation on a schedule determined by the pastor. Social distancing should be encouraged — at least 6 feet between people in prayer and/or waiting to receive the sacrament.
  • All parish events of 50 people or more should be cancelled, per the guidelines of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This includes parish breakfasts and fish fries; drive-through and pick-up options only are acceptable. People who are at a higher risk for contracting the illness — the elderly and those with underlying health conditions — should avoid gatherings of 10 or more people.
  • If any changes to this approach are warranted in the next few weeks, I will notify pastors.

While the threat in your community may not be readily visible, it is very real. I believe these steps are necessary during this national emergency to protect human life and uphold the common good — two foundational principles of Catholic social teaching. While it may seem counterintuitive, we stay in solidarity with one another at this time by staying apart.

This outbreak has caused much fear and anxiety, and I share those same feelings. I haven’t experienced anything like this in my 50 years of priesthood. But we can take comfort in knowing that Jesus never leaves our side. He offers us the grace we need to make our way through this present challenge. “Take courage,” he reminds us. “It is I; do not be afraid” (Matthew 14:27).

The measures we are taking don’t mean that we will stop providing pastoral care. My staff and I are committed to helping our parishes and the people of our diocese navigate through this crisis. It will require everyone — diocesan staff, pastors, lay staff and volunteers, parishioners of all ages — to be creative in how we might offer alternative prayer and faith enrichment opportunities, particularly during Holy Week. We must work to make Christ present in other ways in our homes and through our charitable efforts.

I encourage you — individually or as a family — to read and pray over the Sunday Scripture readings and watch our diocesan TV Mass. It is available online at http://worship.stcdio.org/tv-mass, where you will also find a list of channels on which it airs. My staff is working on additional prayer and faith formation opportunities that could be offered online during this holy season. These will be publicized in various ways, including on the diocesan website: www.stcdio.org.

I ask that you also take time to check in — by phone, email or social media — with family members, friends and neighbors, particularly those who are most vulnerable, to ensure they are well and have what they need. Please also continue to support your parish financially during this time. Parishes rely on your generosity to support their staff and ministries, and they need this support now more than ever.

Finally, please join me in praying for all those affected by this pandemic — those who are ill, their caregivers, health care workers, and public officials. We will get through this by patiently making sacrifices, loving our neighbor, and staying close to Christ in prayer. May this time without the celebration of the Eucharist instill in us an even greater appreciation for those times when we will again be gathered, nourished and sent.

I share with you the prayer that Archbishop Jose Gomez, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, recently shared, seeking the intercession of Our Lady of Guadalupe:

Holy Virgin of Guadalupe,
Queen of the Angels and Mother of the Americas.
We fly to you today as your beloved children.
We ask you to intercede for us with your Son,
as you did at the wedding in Cana.

Pray for us, loving Mother,
and gain for our nation and world,
and for all our families and loved ones,
the protection of your holy angels,
that we may be spared the worst of this illness.

For those already afflicted,
we ask you to obtain the grace of healing and deliverance.
Hear the cries of those who are vulnerable and fearful,
wipe away their tears and help them to trust. 

In this time of trial and testing,
teach all of us in the Church to love one another and to be patient and kind.
Help us to bring the peace of Jesus to our land and to our hearts.

We come to you with confidence,
knowing that you truly are our compassionate mother,
health of the sick and cause of our joy.

Shelter us under the mantle of your protection,
keep us in the embrace of your arms,
help us always to know the love of your Son, Jesus. Amen.

Sincerely yours in Christ,

+Donald J. Kettler
Bishop of Saint Cloud

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

8 comments

If the shepherds have no faith, where are the sheep suppose to feed? Grocery and liquor stores stay open because they are said to be essential. “Man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.” We should not be as concerned for the body as we should for the soul! Luke 18:8 “But when the Son of Man comes will he find faith?”

Dear Bishop Kettler

A few days ago, I hastily put together an email with my reaction to the suspension of Mass in the St Cloud Diocese. My emotions were raw and my heart was hurt when I read of the suspensions for the reasons stated in my email. I don’t want to be denied My Lord in the Eucharist.

During the last few days I have had time to reflect, and I through my own prayers (and I suspect the prayers of others), my heart has softened to God’s path placed before me. The words, “Oh Lord I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word and I shall be healed” are truly humbling. I don’t always get what I want, but the Lord places in my life the things that He wants me to experience, so that I will draw closer to Him.

In the past, during the season of Lent, we have seen slogans with messages declaring, “Experience the Best Lent Ever”! But no matter what they have offered us, they pale in comparison to what this lent offers us. A time of being in the desert. A time of wondering and loneliness. A time of truly reflecting on the life of Christ and what He has done for us. A time to unite our sufferings with His suffering.

We know that God is merciful. We know His love for us is great. Even though we do not always understand His thoughts and ways, we are assured that He wants us to one day be with Him for eternity. I pray this separation from the Church and the sacraments light a fire in our hearts to never again take our faith for granted. May we appreciate the sacraments and the healing they provide as never before. May this be the beginning of an evangelization in all of us to witness to the greatness of our Lord and Savior.

Respectfully,
Terri Anderson

Here are two beautiful prayers that can help us, the layity, during this time without access to the Holy Mass.

An Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus,
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.
Amen.

A prayer to send my guardian angel to Mass

O HOLY ANGEL at my side,
Go to Church for me,
Kneel in my place, at Holy Mass,
Where I desire to be.

At Offertory, in my stead,
Take all I am and own,
And place it as a sacrifice
Upon the Altar Throne.

At Holy Consecration’s bell,
Adore with Seraph’s love,
My Jesus hidden in the Host,
Come down from Heaven above.

Then pray for those I dearly love,
And those who cause me grief,
That Jesus’ Blood may cleanse all hearts,
And suff’ring souls relieve.

And when the priest Communion takes,
Oh, bring my Lord to me,
That His sweet Heart may rest on mine,
And I His temple be.

Pray that this Sacrifice Divine,
May mankind’s sins efface;
Then bring me Jesus’ blessing home,
The pledge of every grace. Amen

Your Excellency, The Most Reverend Bishop Kettler,

I think we should still be keeping the doors of the Churches open for the Mass especially during this crucial time. “The Mass For The Deliverance From Death In Time Of Pestilence” is an important Mass that also could be said. We will pray for all of those affected by this virus and protection of all and those here in your diocese. Please, consider the importance of the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, that us as Catholic need, and the Sacrament of Penance. We pray for you daily. Just asking not to take away the Mass. May the Holy Ghost guide you and Our Lady protect you and help you to make the right decision for this diocese.

His Excellency, The Most Reverend Bishop Donald Kettler,

I can only imagine how difficult this decision was for you to discern in making your decision to suspend the Holy Mass through April 13. I do support your decision when hearing the death statistics in other countries.

Yes, I agree satan and his diabolic attacks against the church seems apparent. But we all know God is more powerful than satan. The Blessed Most Holy Trinity omnipotent power will be known through out the world. For God’s mercy endures forever.

We are so bless to have our Holy priests here and through out the world bringing us the Holy Mass, on TV and the internet to feed us in a spiritual communion. If we feel lonely we can always seek Jesus in the you tube perpetual live adoration, daily scripture readings. Jesus never abandons us.

Our Blessed Mother Mary and St. Joseph our powerful intercessors will protect and guide us to Jesus. We must all remain vigilant in prayer and sacrifice in this grace filled time of lent for each other.

God Bless,
Jane Nienaber

Dear Bishop Kettler

With all due respect the decision to suspend Mass and the sacraments in the Diocese of St Cloud is misguided and made in fear and haste. It is wrong for our diocese to deny the faithful the healing power of the sacraments and the most Holy Eucharist. Several months ago, when the poll was released that a large percentage of Catholics no longer believe in the real presence of our Lord in the Eucharist, church leaders were stunned and disheartened by this news. For those of us who KNOW and DO believe, the removal of this sacrament from our lives is devastating.

It is interesting to me that this pandemic is coming during the holy season of Lent. What does the Lord want to tell us? What does He want us to do? Lent is a time when we should be seeking a deeper relationship with Him; repenting for all the times we have left Him in our sinfulness; saying Yes to a life with Him and following Him more closely. Now is NOT the time to fold up shop, closing the church doors, saying it is too dangerous to interact with one another. Now is the time to TRUST in Him. These cannot be just words we utter in sermons or to fill the hollow spaces in our grief. These need to be the words that we live by.

I realize that government agencies have put these policies in place as a guideline for our health and protection, but what about the protection of our spiritual lives? What about the protection of our souls? Where is the balance? Where is the holy guidance from our church leaders? If we have well formed conscious toward the faith, we should be able to make well informed decisions as to weather or not we should attend Mass. We should have precautions set in place such as no hand shaking or perhaps not receiving the Precious Body on the tongue … but we should all be able to make those decisions on our own.

Now is the time for strong leadership. The people of the world are so mixed up and confused. The devil works in our midst everyday through the media, through the entertainment world, through our politicians. We want to know the Truth of our Faith. We want it spoken through love and for our benefit. People (young and old alike) want to know the saving Love of a merciful God who came to walk among us and open the gates of Heaven so that we might have life with Him.

There have been many times in the history of the world that the people have gone astray, but when faced with a crisis of great magnitude, they have come together to pray and make reparations. God in His great Mercy has saved His people. Please do not deny the faithful of the Dioceses of St Cloud the ability to gather for Mass and receive the sacraments. We desperately need them. Please be the leader that shows us the way. May this be a time of renewal in the Church. May this be the time of Hope and Healing that we so desperately need.

Yours Respectfully
Terri Anderson

Well said, perfectly say! Also, seeito me if April 13 is safe, then April 12…Easter Sunday…would be safe, as well!

I am extremely disappointed in the last two messages Bishop Kettler has released in regards to the coronavirus. In both messages, his excellency failed to mention the importance of making a spiritual communion when one has to refrain from the reception of Holy Communion. The advice he gives to those who are not able to attend Holy Mass suggest that his view of the Holy Mass is very much worldly for he fails to convey any sense of the supernatural in his advice to the faithful. I would highly suggest Bishop Kettler release a message to the faithful sharing with us his advice in regards to making a spiritual communion being that it more important now then ever to the faithful.

Leave a Reply

*