March 20, 2020

Indiana’s Catholic bishops suspend public Sunday and weekday Masses; archdiocesan offices are closed

Criterion staff report

Based on recommendations from health officials concerning the danger of  the COVID-19 pandemic and the urgency to stem the spread of the virus, the five Catholic bishops of Indiana have suspended until further notice all public Sunday and weekday Masses throughout the Province of Indianapolis, which is comprised of the Archdiocese of Indianapolis and the Dioceses of Gary, Evansville, Fort Wayne-South Bend and Lafayette.

The suspension became effective on March 18. Indianapolis Archbishop Charles C. Thompson’s dispensation from Sunday Mass continues until further notice.

Archbishop Thompson and archdiocesan priests will be making online Masses available soon. Please visit the homepage of the archdiocese, www.archindy.org, for more information.

Out of an abundance of caution, the archbishop is also closing perpetual adoration chapels in the archdiocese until further notice.

All Catholic schools in the archdiocese will continue to be closed until at least April 6.

The Archbishop Edward T. O’Meara Catholic Center in Indianapolis and related offices and agencies have been closed until further notice as well.

“As the health and safety conditions in our archdiocesan community have shifted,” an archdiocesan statement said, “the spread of the COVID-19 virus is a moment for Catholics and all people of goodwill to offer special prayers of intercession for the healing of those infected, for the protection of the elderly and infirm who are at greatest risk, for the prevention of the disease’s spread, and for the courage and strength of care providers who minister to the sick, their families and those most in need.”

The archdiocesan statement also noted that for the celebration of other sacraments—including baptism, confirmation and holy matrimony—whenever possible they should be postponed until further notice.

Procedures are also being developed for the celebration of the sacraments of penance and the anointing of the sick.

Finally, the celebration of funerals should be postponed whenever possible. If a funeral is offered, then it should be celebrated outside of Mass and in the presence of a very small number of the faithful who practice the prescribed precautions for hygiene and social distancing. A Mass for the intention and the repose of the soul of the deceased may be offered privately by the priest.

Decisions about liturgical celebrations during Holy Week and beyond will be made in the coming days.

During a time of prayer on Sunday or while viewing the Mass on TV or online, the faithful are encouraged to make an act of Spiritual Communion. This beautiful devotional practice in the Church is a real source of grace in communion with our Lord. 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. Amen.

The faithful are also encouraged to prayerfully read the readings of sacred Scripture for the day or to pray the rosary.

The Criterion is planning to continue its weekly publishing schedule. †

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