GIRARDOT: A gift that keeps on giving long after Epiphany

February 8, 2022

(Herald file photo)

On Jan. 2, the Solemnity of the Epiphany of the Lord, we received a wonderful Epiphany Sunday gift!
Daniel Cardinal DiNardo called all Catholics in our Archdiocese back to full participation in the Mass to “fulfill their Sunday and Holy Day obligations joyfully and conscientiously.”

In his pastoral letter, he reminds us that the dispensation for the obligation to attend Mass remained in place to “instill peace of mind among all the faithful, especially those who would sincerely desire to fulfill their Mass obligations while also harboring serious concerns for contracting the coronavirus.”

In this letter, he simply and beautifully describes how, with devotion and attention to safety, we will return to active participation in the Mass, the central act of our Catholic faith.

For nearly two years, the pandemic stretched our hearts, minds and spirits to their limits. Are we ready for all to return to Mass?

With the help of God’s grace, let us say “Yes!” The pastoral letter includes the wisdom of the Church’s teaching that the obligation is “not morally binding for those who find it impossible to attend Mass, e.g., due to illness, advanced age, caring for a sick person, or being at high-risk for contracting COVID-19 (cf. Canon, 1248).”

Our pastoral leaders are heroically leading us through this long pandemic with care and concern for all, especially the least among us. How can we help?

First, take the blessings of the Mass and serve others with renewed attention to love and care. God loves us more than we can imagine and gives us the Eucharist as the greatest gift of all eternity.

Why is Mass so important? The Mass is our spiritual life support, the center and source of our whole life and defines the essence of who we are. Like eating, sleeping or breathing, the Eucharist is not an option; it sustains our spirits and empowers our lives.

Our full, conscious, active participation in the Mass defines who we are and whose we are — the Lord’s most beloved and cherished son or daughter of God. We celebrate the Eucharist to love God back, to offer back to God our thanks and praise for the gift of Jesus, our life and our salvation. Filled with the grace of the Eucharist, our return gift to God is to serve the world in charity and love. Love more!

Second, it means that we listen. Ask God for guidance and open the “ear of your heart” to the hearts and needs of others. Praise God for the opportunity to come together again as a family of faith. This pastoral letter calls us to new life during this Winter Ordinary Time season.

Let us reach out to love our neighbor, love our enemy and turn away from the world’s attention on anger, self-gratification and overzealous self-righteousness. Embrace the graces of the Eucharist to accept others, care for those in need, and share a true kind and listening heart to all. Listen more!

Finally, be courageous and build up the Church to be more vibrant than ever before. We discovered how technology and new initiatives help us reach new people on the margins of life. This “new springtime of our faith” gives us opportunities to fling open the door to renew our faith, renew our parishes, and re-think the way we gather and care for one another. It can be a giant “reset” button for our outreach and communal love for our parish community, our civic community and even our neighborhood.

This gift from Cardinal DiNardo keeps on giving — the gift of the Eucharist that calls us to love God in return. As we joyfully and conscientiously celebrate and embrace the gift of Jesus in the Mass, let us offer a gift to God in return. Do simply what the Lord asks of you, “to do justice, to love goodness, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8) in all parts of your life and in the life of the world. 

Dr. Dan Girardot is an associate director for Liturgical Formation in the Office of Worship.