June 8, 2021
Brothers and Sisters,
“Without the Lord’s day, we cannot live!” His Holiness, Pope Benedict, in his homily at the
Cathedral of Saint Stephen in Vienna on September 9, 2007, quoted the Abitinian Martyrs, who, during the persecution of the Emperor Diocletian, were arrested for celebrating Sunday Mass. The martyrs responded to the magistrate: “Sine dominico non possumus!” -without the Lord’s day, we cannot live! The Pope went on to say: “For these Christians, the Sunday Eucharist was not a commandment, but an inner necessity. Without him who sustains our lives, life itself is
empty. To do without or to betray this focus would deprive life of its very foundation, would
take away its inner dignity and beauty.”
Aware that the opportunity to participate in Sunday Mass is increasingly available and
increasingly safe for our Catholic people, we are joining dioceses in the Boston Province,
(Boston, Fall River, Springfield, Manchester, and Portland) in lifting the dispensation of the
Sunday and Holy Day Mass obligation, effective the weekend of June 19 and 20, 2021.
We are mindful of the Lord’s statement: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18:20). While we certainly can pray alone, there is both strength and blessedness in communal prayer.
We do also note that attendance at Mass is our way of following the third commandment of the Decalogue: “Remember the sabbath day -keep it holy. For six days the LORD made the
heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them; but on the seventh day he rested. That is why the LORD has blessed the sabbath day and made it holy.” (Ex. 20:8,11)
We call to mind the many times we see Jesus observing the sabbath by going to the synagogue and teaching there (Mt 13 :54, Mk 1 :21-28, Lk 4: 16-30, Jn 6:22-59). It is a desire of every
Christian to conform his or her life to the life of Jesus, and Jesus went to the synagogue on the sabbath.
Most significantly, receiving the Eucharist is the center of every Catholic life. The Lord
commands us to take and eat, and to do it in memory of him. (Mt 26:26-30, Mk 14:22-26, Lk
22:14-20, 1 Cor 11 :23-26, CCC 1324). The Eucharist is food for our difficult journey through life, filling us with joy, and strengthening us to embrace our suffering. It transforms us from the inside out and creates a unity among us that is a strong witness to the whole world.