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Top Vatican authority on worship demands return to Eucharist, in-person Mass

Cdl. Robert Sarah called for a return to the Eucharist 'without limitations that go even beyond what is provided for by the norms of hygiene issued by public authorities or bishops.'
Tue Sep 15, 2020 - 9:05 pm EST
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Cardinal Robert Sarah giving a homily at the conclusion of Chartres Pentecost Pilgrimage, May 21, 2018. Catholic Sat / Youtube screen grab

September 15, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) — In a letter addressed to the presidents of bishops’ conferences around the world, the head of the Congregation for Divine Worship, Cardinal Robert Sarah, spoke of the need to return to normalcy and asserted that virtual Masses are no substitute for being physically present at the liturgy.

“As soon as is possible,” wrote Sarah in his letter, titled “Let us return to the Eucharist with joy!,” “we must return to the Eucharist with a purified heart, with a renewed amazement, with an increased desire to meet the Lord, to be with him, to receive him and to bring him to our brothers and sisters with the witness of a life full of faith, love, and hope.”

“Broadcasts alone risk distancing us from a personal and intimate encounter with the incarnate God who gave himself to us not in a virtual way, but really, saying: ‘He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him’ (Jn 6:56),” said Sarah, declaring, “This physical contact with the Lord is vital, indispensable, irreplaceable.”

“The faithful should be recognised as having the right to receive the Body of Christ and to worship the Lord present in the Eucharist in the manner provided for, without limitations that go even beyond what is provided for by the norms of hygiene issued by public authorities or Bishops,” said Sarah. 

“In the Eucharistic celebration the faithful adore the Risen Jesus present; and we see with what ease the sense of adoration, the prayer of adoration, is lost,” noted Sarah to the bishops. “In their catechesis we ask Pastors to insist on the necessity of adoration.”

Cardinal Sarah offered a litany of reasons for Catholics to flock back to the Mass and to receiving the Eucharist as soon as feasible:

  • We cannot live, be Christians, fully realizing our humanity and the desires for good and happiness that dwell in our hearts without the Word of the Lord, which in the celebration of the liturgy takes shape and becomes a living word, spoken by God for those who today open their hearts to listen;
  • We cannot live as Christians without participating in the Sacrifice of the Cross in which the Lord Jesus gives himself unreservedly to save, by his death, humanity which had died because of sin; the Redeemer associates humanity with himself and leads it back to the Father; in the embrace of the Crucified One all human suffering finds light and comfort;
  • We cannot be without the banquet of the Eucharist, the table of the Lord to which we are invited as sons and daughters, brothers and sisters to receive the Risen Christ himself, present in body, blood, soul and divinity in that Bread of heaven which sustains us in the joys and labours of this earthly pilgrimage;
  • We cannot be without the Christian community, the family of the Lord: we need to meet our brothers and sisters who share the sonship of God, the fraternity of Christ, the vocation and the search for holiness and the salvation of their souls in the rich diversity of ages, personal histories, charisms and vocations;
  • We cannot be without the house of the Lord, which is our home, without the holy places where we were born to faith, where we discovered the provident presence of the Lord and discovered the merciful embrace that lifts up those who have fallen, where we consecrated our vocation to marriage or religious life, where we prayed and gave thanks, rejoiced and wept, where we entrusted to the Father our loved ones who had completed their earthly pilgrimage;
  • We cannot be without the Lord’s Day, without Sunday which gives light and meaning to the successions of days of work and to family and social responsibilities.

“The Church unites proclamation and accompaniment towards the eternal salvation of souls with the necessary concern for public health,” said Sarah, concluding: “Let us therefore continue to entrust ourselves confidently to God’s mercy, to invoke the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, salus infirmorum at auxilium christianorum, for all those who are sorely tried by the pandemic and every other affliction, let us persevere in prayer for those who have left this life, and at the same time let us renew our intention to be witnesses of the Risen One and heralds of a sure hope, which transcends the limits of this world.”

Cardinal Sarah’s letter was written on August 15, the Solemnity of the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary; approved by Pope Francis on September 3; and published in Italian on September 12, 2020. The translation was provided by the Catholic News Agency (CNA).


  catholic, congregation for divine worship, coronavirus, eucharist, lockdown, robert sarah

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