+ The Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ +
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
In the Gospel of Saint John, the Lord Jesus tells us, “If you love me, keep my commands.” Participation in Mass on Sundays is one of the most practical ways Catholics respond to the Lord’s love.
Therefore I wish to announce the restoration of the obligation for Sunday and holy day Masses in the Diocese of Phoenix, effective July 1, 2021. On this day we commemorate Saint Junipero Serra, the great missionary and evangelist. He is a shining example of the Church’s mission to announce the joy of the Gospel to all the nations.
Why should Sunday Mass be an obligation for us? In my recent Apostolic Exhortation on the Eucharist, entitled Veneremur Cernui, I wrote:
The ultimate effect of the Holy Eucharist is not only the transubstantiation of bread and wine into the body and blood, soul and divinity of Jesus Christ for our spiritual nourishment, but the transformation of those who receive Holy Communion into “one body, one spirit in Christ.” Through this personal relationship with the Risen Jesus in the Eucharist, we experience the self-sacrificing love of Jesus, who invites us to imitate His love and to bring that love to everyone and every situation of our daily life. (41)
These words help us see that the law mandating Mass attendance is not simply an arbitrary imposition. The obligation arises from the natural demands of love, that those whom the Lord loves must be steadily transformed by His love by means of what He has instituted for our good. Sunday is a “little Easter” each week, the principal day for the celebration of the Eucharist. It is the central day for the celebration of His death and Resurrection (cf. CCC 1167).
(See dphx.org for full document.)
Sincerely Yours in the Risen Christ,
+ Thomas J. Olmsted
Bishop of Phoenix