This old man (yours truly) was both proud and pleased to see Bishop Donald DeGrood of Sioux Falls in the forefront of Diocesan Ordinaries calling their people back to Sunday obligation (here). From the looks of some of the Facebook comments, by calling the healthy folk back to church he has risked critique and controversy. It could not be otherwise. Bravo!
In some ways, I suppose, St. Justin Martyr had it easier. Threatening him and his loved ones with execution, his judge was intent on pressing him to deny the living God and pay service to the empire's false gods. Nothing seems to be that straightforward today, but in a sense Catholics today are confronted by the same issue. We are called to do what Catholics of every age, nation and generation have been called to do on Sunday: get out of the sack, clean yourself up, and move across the threshold into the Temple of the living God, whether it be a grandiose basilica or some quaint little wood frame building at the intersection of two county roads, paved or gravel.
It is that getting up and moving, not soapbox rhetoric, which has always been our confession, our glory. As for St. Justin Martyr, so also for us it is simply a matter of necessity, a matter of life and death. No human tribunal can dispense me from the Lord's reasonable commands.
Not wishing to play down the risks involved in COVID both for ourselves and for others, we still recognize that Sunday is not dispensable. Our lives need Sunday, the first day of the week which belongs to God and therefore to all of us just that much more.
Where bishops and priests are hesitant, I pray that individuals and heads of households will courageously move themselves and their loved ones. More than ever today we need confessors of the faith. Martyrdom for the sake of Christ is not sought out in our tradition, but then it is not shunned when such a stance is unavoidable for the sake of His Holy Name and for our everlasting life.
PROPERANTES ADVENTUM DIEI DEI