In Wake of Corona Virus, Capuchins to Offer Online Mass

Dear brothers and sisters,

Hours ago, the Archdiocese of Denver announced that the Bishops of Colorado unanimously agreed to suspend the public celebration of the Mass until further notice. The suspension includes both Sunday Masses and daily Masses. This was done in light of Governor Jared Polis’ order to cancel all gatherings of more than 250 people.

Capuchins are no strangers to epidemics. The Capuchin Order was given the nickname “Brothers of the people” largely because of their work among plague victims in Italy. In a sense, we exist for times like these. We know how important it is to have “anchors” in our lives when the world is going topsy-turvy. For us, as for many of you, the Eucharist is one such anchor so the decision of the Archdiocese of Denver to suspend temporarily all public Masses will be a difficult one to accept. As Pope Benedict XVI once remarked, however, to occasionally “fast” from receiving the Eucharist can actually be helpful. Not only does it help us to better appreciate the great gift that we have in the Eucharist, but it also allows us to live in solidarity with those who, for whatever reason, cannot receive the Eucharist.

Although we will respect the decision of the Archdiocese by not holding public Masses, we wish to offer our friends and family members the opportunity to participate virtually by live-streaming the Mass each Sunday while the suspension of public Masses is in place. By doing so, we hope to provide some measure of comfort and stability to you in these turbulent times.

Naturally, the spread of an infectious disease and the resulting chaos that disrupts the normal routine of our daily lives is frightening. As people of faith, we should look for God’s grace present in every situation. As the public celebration of the Mass has been suspended and as we spend more time at home with our families, we can use the time to really deepen our relationship with God and one another, and to reflect on the great gift of the Eucharist in our daily lives.

The Sunday Masses will be celebrated at one of the Capuchin friaries in Denver and live-streamed on the Capuchin’s website each Sunday at 8 AM MST. Although those watching online cannot receive the Eucharist sacramentally, they are urged to make a spiritual communion, inviting the Lord into their hearts (see an example of a spiritual communion).

For those concerned about the moral obligation of participating in the celebration of the Mass on Sundays, #2181 of The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “The faithful are obliged to participate in the Eucharist on days of obligation, unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants) or dispensed by their own pastor.” Archbishop Aquila, as the ordinary of the Archdiocese of Denver, has the legitimate authority to dispense the faithful from the Sunday obligation for a serious reason.

We are unsure how long the threat of this epidemic will disrupt the flow of our day-to-day lives, but we know that God’s loving providence guides the course of human history and that he works all things to good for those who love him. Please be assured of the prayers of your Capuchin brothers on behalf of your family and their intentions.

Prayerfully yours,

Br. Mark Schenk, Provincial Minister