Q&A: What are we doing while the priests are gone?

Posted on June 21, 2021 in: General News

Q&A: What are we doing while the priests are gone?

Dear Parish Family,

Praised be Jesus Christ! 

This is the phrase that my godmother uses to begin all her letters. She is a religious sister, and actually went to grade school here at Nativity of Mary! Her family still lives in Minnesota, and this very week she is making her triannual visit to see her parents and relatives in the area. 

As you have likely felt yourselves, the absence of the priests right now means that it will be a challenge for her to receive the Eucharist. Religious sisters devote themselves so totally to God that their relationship with Jesus is as unique for them as that between husband and wife. Since her calling as a sister makes it essential for her to go to Mass every day, I’m sure she will find some place that still has Mass this week (perhaps using our handy list!). However, for many of us, we don’t have the flexibility to traverse the Twin Cities in search of Mass. 

This year, during the Priest Convocation, this means that we can’t receive Jesus every day, as we’re used to. In previous years (and on some other occasions), perhaps we would have gone to a Communion Service. This year, we will instead be celebrating the Liturgy of the Hours. 

Perhaps you’re wondering why. I’ve asked myself that question as well, and the answer was more interesting and more satisfying than I expected. First, why are we not doing Communion Services? Since the Eucharist is consecrated at Mass, the Mass is the best place to receive communion--which we all realize quite naturally. However, sometimes the Eucharist is distributed outside of Mass. What we discovered was that communion outside of Mass is most common for the sick, the homebound, countries with hardly any priests, and emergencies. Also, there is a deep connection between the Eucharist and bishops, priests, and deacons, so when no priest is around, it’s most fitting for the deacon to lead Communion Services. 

Since not only our priests but also our deacons will be gone this week, we decided it would be an excellent opportunity to dive into one of Vatican II’s recommendations: To pray the Liturgy of the Hours as a community. On Tuesday we will pray Evening Prayer, and the rest of the week we will pray Morning Prayer. Based on the psalms and containing boatloads of Scripture, the Liturgy of the Hours is designed to be a prayer of the community, and while it is required of priests and religious sisters, Vatican II asked that lay people learn and pray it as often as they can. Come join us in praying together the Liturgy of the Hours at Mass times this week!

In Christ,

Jacob Hornecker
Director of Evangelization and Faith Formation



Q. Where are all the priests going this week?

A. Once every two years, all the diocesan priests go to the Presbyteral Assembly, or Priest Convocation, which has three purposes: A chance for the priests to learn from the Archbishop; to experience community and relaxation; and to discuss important topics in the Archdiocese. Religious priests, such as those from Pro Ecclesia Sancta (the sisters who live at our convent are part of this community), are invited but not required to go. 

Q. Why don’t they drive back to say Masses for us?

A. In order to fully focus on time with the bishops and with each other, this gathering takes place outside of the Archdiocese, and normal priestly ministry in parishes is put on hold for a few days. Some parishes have visiting priests from out of town or are run by religious communities, and still have Mass. Check the list to see where!

Q. Don’t we normally do Communion Services when we don’t have Mass?

A. Since it is at the Mass that the Eucharist is consecrated, the Mass is the best place to receive the Eucharist. Communion is occasionally distributed outside of the context of Mass, such as Communion for the Sick or Homebound, or Communion Services in countries without enough priests to have Mass said every weekend. Since our priests will only be gone for a few days, and we know enough in advance that they will be gone, we encourage our parish family to consult the list we’ve made to see where we can go to Mass this week!

Q. Are we doing anything here during Mass times?

A. Exposition of the Blessed Sacrament will be extended to last during Mass times, and we will follow a recommendation of Vatican II and pray the Liturgy of the Hours together, using handouts provided by the parish. Come join us!


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