The Eucharist is "the source and summit of the Christian life." The other sacraments, and indeed all ecclesiastical ministries and works of the apostolate, are bound up with the Eucharist and are oriented toward it. For in the blessed Eucharist is contained the whole spiritual good of the Church, namely Christ himself, our Pasch (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 1324).
Dear St. Catherine Parish Family,
Over the last several months, Catholics around the world have had to endure the burden of being separated from the Eucharist for long periods of time due to the pandemic. Although the dispensation from the obligation to attend Mass in the Archdiocese of Atlanta remains in effect under specific conditions until the end of September, Archbishop Hartmayer has made it clear that it is his desire that those Catholics who are not at serious risk of illness return to the Eucharist as soon as possible, and he reminded us that watching Mass via live stream is not a substitute for attending Mass in person. I wholeheartedly agree with the archbishop’s sentiments, and it is my contention that the Church needs a sort of “Eucharistic renewal” in order to strengthen our desire to once again make the Lord, truly present in the Eucharist, the center of our lives, and to make the Mass the center of our week. In light of this, and considering several of the comments we received from our recent parish survey, I would like to share with you some plans I have been discerning for our parish: namely, expanding the number of daily Masses available, gradually moving Sunday Masses back inside the main church, and resuming adoration of the Blessed Sacrament inside the chapel.
Expanding the Number of Daily Masses
The norms specified in Canon Law for the celebration of Mass indicate that priests should not regularly celebrate more than one Mass per day on weekdays. Further, priests are directed by diocesan norms to take one day off per week without parish responsibilities (Fr. Valery’s day off is Tuesday, and mine is Thursday). This is why on Tuesdays and Thursdays, we only have one Mass currently at 6:45am. To be sure, on our “day off,” Fr. Valery and I both celebrate Mass privately. However, in light of the current circumstances, and out of desire to make the Eucharists as accessible as possible to our parishioners, Fr. Valery and I have decided that we will both celebrate public Masses on our day off for the time being. So, beginning September 1, we will add a 9:00am Mass on Tuesdays and Thursdays. The Wednesday 9:00am Mass will continue to be private for our school children only for the time being.
Gradually Moving Sunday Masses Back into the Church
When we were given permission at the end of May to resume public Masses, I made the decision to hold Masses exclusively outdoors for several reasons: namely, the risk of contagion is significantly reduced, and the logistics for social distancing, sanitizing, and mask requirements are much more complicated when Mass is being held indoors in the church. Furthermore, we would not have been able to accommodate the crowds for our larger Masses inside the church due to social distancing restrictions, and we would have had to implement a reservation system which would limit the numbers who could attend.
Nonetheless, I would like to gradually resume Masses inside the church, particularly for those who find it difficult to attend Mass outdoors. I plan to begin with one Mass on Sundays, and then I will discern when it is prudent to expand the number of Masses indoors. Consequently, beginning September 6, we will offer our 4:30pm Mass on Sunday evenings inside the main church. The current numbers of people who normally attend on Sunday evening should not necessitate reservations even with social distancing restrictions. Because Mass will be indoors, however, masks will be required for those individuals seven and older, in accord with the policies of the archdiocese. Additionally, individuals who are not living in the same household will be required to maintain social distancing while inside the church (every other row of pews will be roped off; however, individuals who do not share the same household should social distance within the particular row – more information about protocols for Mass indoors is forthcoming).
Resuming Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament on a Limited Schedule
Because the risk of transmission of COVID-19 is increased significantly by lengthy exposure to someone with the virus in a smaller enclosed setting, I have chosen not to resume exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in our adoration chapel. Instead, what I would like to do is open St. Joseph’s chapel (which is a significantly larger space) and begin to have exposition and adoration in there (with the doors remaining open). We will have limited hours during the week to begin with, but then we will gradually expand the hours when we are able to. So, beginning September 14, the Feast of the Triumph of the Cross, we will have exposition and adoration of the Blessed Sacrament in St. Joseph’s chapel from 10:00am-7:00pm. (Our Hispanic community also has exposition and benediction in the Mary Garden on Mondays from 7:00-8:00pm, and on Wednesdays, exposition, rosary, and benediction will be held in the Mary Garden from 6:00-7:00pm.) More information with regard to COVID-19 protocols and guardian signups is forthcoming.
I want to thank you for your patience and support during this unprecedented time. Please know of my prayers for you all during my Mass and holy hour each day. I pray, in particular, that the Lord might renew His Church in these times with a deep love for his real presence in the Holy Eucharist and strengthen our resolve to grow in charity through the grace of this great sacrament of charity. (Please see below for our full Mass and adoration schedule.)
Schedule of Masses Beginning September 1st
Monday – Friday | 6:45am and 9:00am (Wednesday 9:00am Mass for SCS school children only; all Masses on the patio)
Saturday | 8:30am and 4:30pm (Sunday Vigil Mass for seniors only; both Masses on the patio)
Sunday | 8:30am, 10:15am and 12:00pm (Spanish), 4:30pm (first three Masses on the field; 4:30pm Mass inside the church; 10:15am and 12:00pm Mass live streamed as well)
Schedule for Exposition and Adoration Beginning September 14th
Monday – Friday | 10:00am-7:00pm (St. Joseph’s Chapel; Wednesday exposition, rosary, and benediction 6:00-7:00pm in the Mary Garden; Monday additional Hispanic community exposition and benediction 7:00-8:00pm in the Mary Garden.).