March 24, 2020
Dear St. James Parishioners, The Archdiocese of Chicago has offered the following guidelines:
- Sacrament of Reconciliation
- Sacrament of Holy Communion to the Sick and Homebound
- Sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick
Please keep all who need healing in your daily prayers.
Thank you Fr. Matt
The following and all current guidelines can be found on our dedicated Coronavirus/COVID-19 IZZY page As all residents of the state comply with the order to stay at home and refrain from non-essential activities, we are nonetheless painfully aware that being cut off from the sacramental life of the church, especially the Eucharist, creates a great hardship for our people, indeed for all of us. However, we make this sacrifice for the common good, convinced that we, like all citizens, have a responsibility in preventing the spread of COVID-19. In fact, doing so will ensure that our people can return to the sacraments as soon as possible. To offer our people as much pastoral care as possible during this time, please observe the following guidelines for the Sacrament of Reconciliation and Anointing of the Sick, and ministering to the sick and homebound, which are in effect until further notice. A note about the Holy Father’s recent issuance of a plenary indulgence is included. Sacrament of Reconciliation Given that our churches are closed and a stay-at-home order is in effect:
- individual confessions are currently not possible; this includes virtual or phone confessions, which are never permissible, nor drive-thru confessions. Despite the good intentions around such novelty, we must attend to our underlying theological tradition of the sacrament, as well as support the stay-at-home order and its intended purpose – to keep people safe in their homes at this time.
- in keeping with longstanding pastoral practice when penitents’ access to the sacrament is restricted, they can be assured that their sins are forgiven if they make an act of contrition with a firm resolve to approach the Sacrament of Reconciliation after the stay-at-home order is lifted.
- the faithful should be encouraged to pray particular prayers or meditate on passages of the bible that you recommend to assist them in seeking the mercy and forgiveness of God and the grace of reconciliation.
- the Holy See has made clear with a recent decree concerning the Sacrament of Reconciliation from the Apostolic Penitentiary that the conditions for general Absolution have not been met. The decree states that the primary place it would be permitted is in a hospital ward. However, our hospitals are not currently set up for this possibility. At the same time, any thought of using general absolution in a parish is moot given that gatherings of people in our churches are not permitted.
We can serve our people well with pastoral tenderness if we recall for them that our Lord knows their hearts and desires to reconcile their lives to Him and He awaits their presence in the Sacrament once the stay-at-home order is lifted and our churches are re-opened. Sharing this message with our parishioners at this time could also prove to be a good reminder of the Church’s precept of making a good confession at least once per year, which many parishioners strive to do during Lent.
Holy Communion to the Sick and Home bound – Communion to the sick and home bound is suspended to be consistent with the governor’s current stay-at-home order.
Anointing of the Sick – Under the State’s exemption for essential services, the Archdiocese of Chicago is including anointing of the sick as an essential service. However, out of an abundance of caution only a select number of priests will be allowed to administer this sacrament to any confirmed COVID-19 patients until further notice