NEW ORLEANS (WGNO) — If you don’t feel safe attending mass right now, Archbishop Gregory Aymond says you are absolved from the obligation.
“The obligation is automatically lifted from that person. I think that’s very important. This is a time for us to be unified, and to ask the question, ‘What can I do to foster the health of the community?'” he says.
One thing you can do, says the head of the Archdiocese of New Orleans, is get vaccinated.
“I am promoting vaccinations. I want to encourage people to be vaccinated. I have been vaccinated and I believe it’s one of the ways in which we can help the health of our community,” says the archbishop, who tested positive for COVID in March 2020.
He says that attending mass qualifies as an indoor activity and therefore, according to the governor’s mandate, masks should be worn for protection. The Archdiocese will continue to follow the guidance of state and local leaders.
“Their goal is not to make our lives more difficult, even though we may feel that way at times because of restrictions, but their goal is to protect society,” says Archbishop Aymond.
Live-streaming mass has become standard operating procedure at churches across the country; parishes in and around New Orleans are accommodating the faithful with the help of technology. Archbishop Aymond says that will likely be a positive longterm, permanent result of the pandemic.
For the faithful looking for safe ways to celebrate the faith without a screen, Archbishop Aymond suggests reading books about the lives of the saints.
“There are lots of wonderful women and men out there who have been real examples of what it is to go through difficult times,” says Archbishop Aymond. A few suggestions? Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Saint Barbara, Saint Peter and Saint Paul.
The Archbishop reminds parishioners that they can arrange to have Holy Communion brought to their homes, and it’s also okay to ask for a missalette to be delivered, as a way to keep up with religious readings on your own.
Holy water returned to fonts at the doorways of Catholic churches back in June, and it’s here to stay.
“Talking with people in the medical profession, they don’t believe that [sharing Holy water for blessings] is a major way of transmitting the virus,” says Archbishop Aymond.
However, he says the idea of bringing back the shared Communion cup of consecrated wine isn’t on the church’s radar, and isn’t even up for discussion at this point.