Posted by on March 13, 2020 at 5:50 PM

March 12, 2020

The celebration of the Most Holy Eucharist is the source and summit of the Christian life. It is in the

Holy Sacrifice of the Mass that we encounter the mystery of our redemption, are nourished by God’s

Word, and receive the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ.

For these reasons, the Church places a grave obligation for the faithful to participate at Mass on

Sundays and Holy Days of Obligation. This fulfills the Lord’s command to “keep holy the Sabbath.”

Nevertheless, for a just cause the Church’s pastors may dispense the faithful from this grave obligation.

Given the declared pandemic of the COVID-19 virus, Archbishop Alexander K. Sample therefore issues

the following directives. He does so out of an abundance of concern for the health and wellbeing of

the people of God entrusted to his pastoral care.

The governor of the state of Oregon, Kate Brown, has cancelled all public gatherings of more than 250

people. The fact is that most of the Masses celebrated on the weekends in the Archdiocese of Portland

are far below that number. Therefore:

1. Anyone 60 years or older is encouraged to consider not attending Mass, since they are the
    most vulnerable to this virus. They would therefore be dispensed from the obligation to
    attend Mass.
2. Persons who have underlying medical issues that put them at risk, or persons with
    compromised immune systems, are asked not to attend Mass. They, likewise, would be
    dispensed from the obligation to attend Mass.
3. Persons who are not feeling well, no matter how mild the symptoms, are urged not to attend
    Mass. They also would be dispensed from the obligation.
4. A general dispensation is offered to anyone else in the Archdiocese of Portland who
    sincerely and seriously think they might be at risk. This dispensation maybe used by anyone
    of any age.
5. The faithful who are in attendance at Mass are reminded to avoid all physical contact with
    others and should attempt to keep a safe distance from each other.

These directives and dispensations will remain in effect until April 8, 2020, in keeping with Gov.

Brown’s directive. The archdiocese will continue to monitor and evaluate the situation, and offer

further direction as circumstances change or as further direction is given by public officials.

Some further things to consider:

1. Any parish gatherings other than Mass that would exceed 250 people should be canceled.

    Please note that the Department of Catholic Schools has issued its own guidelines regarding

    school gatherings. Please follow their directions.

2. Parishes should break down school Masses so as to keep the numbers below 250.

3. Even with the above directives in place, some parishes may still have difficulty keeping Mass

    attendance below 250. Pastors are encouraged to be creative in managing this situation. Some

    possibilities would be to encourage the faithful to attend Masses in the parish that are known

    to be less attended. Another possibility would be to add Masses to help spread out the

    numbers at each Mass.

4. Those who would make use of the dispensations mentioned above may want to consider

    attending a daily Mass in the parish.

5. Those who would make use of the dispensations mentioned above and not participate in Mass

    on the weekend may want to consider watching Mass via television or livestreamed on the

    internet. Some parishes may wish to livestream their own parish Mass and make it available


6. Those who make use of the dispensations mentioned above and would not be present at Mass

    on the weekend are encouraged to make an act of Spiritual Communion. This is a beautiful

    devotional practice in the Church and is a real source of grace in communion with our Lord.

    Some people who are in attendance at Mass may for their own reasons feel uncomfortable at

    this time receiving Holy Communion at Mass due to a fear of contamination. These are also

    encouraged to make an act of Spiritual Communion. Below is an example of a prayer for

    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.


During these difficult and trying times, let us keep one another in prayer and pray especially for

those who are most vulnerable to this virus. Let us also remember those who have lost their

lives to COVID-19 and their grieving families. Placing our trust in Jesus, we will together make it

through this time.

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