A friend from my parish called, wondering if there was any policy about Mass and bad weather, or if any of the three dioceses in our region had issued a statement on Hurricane Irene.
Here’s what I found. All three have statements on their websites from their respective bishops.
From Nicholas DiMarzio in Brooklyn:
“In light of the serious threat posed by Hurricane Irene, which is due to hit our area over the weekend, I urge the faithful of the Diocese of Brooklyn to use caution and prepare for this dangerous storm.
It goes without saying that for those areas of the Diocese under mandatory evacuation, the obligation to attend Mass this Sunday has been lifted, as well as for those areas where travel is considered dangerous due to weather conditions, age, or infirmity. The Sunday obligation remains in place for all those who can reasonably attend services this weekend.
Above all else, please exercise common sense and caution as we encounter the effects of Hurricane Irene. Please join me in praying to the Lord that all human life will be spared the worst effects of this natural occurrence.”
From William Murphy, in Rockville Centre on Long Island:
“We are all united in prayer for all those who have suffered through this storm already and we pray through the intercession of Mary, our Blessed Mother and Saint Agnes our patroness, in asking God’s protection over all of us, our families and all those who stand in the path of the storm.”
The statement adds:
Parishioners should understand that parish Mass schedules may need to be adjusted and Mass times cancelled due to the storm. Parishioners may consider attending the Saturday evening anticipatory Mass.
If the storm eventuates as predicted, we must all exercise prudence in making the decision to attend Mass during the height of the storm on Sunday morning. Catholics are encouraged to stay home if their trip to Church might place themselves, their families and others at risk. We do hope to broadcast the Mass from Saint Agnes Cathedral on Telecare (Cablevision Channel 29/Verizon FiOS 296) on Sunday at the usual times of 11:00 A.M. and 7:00 P.M.
While at home, Catholics are encouraged to use the time to reflect on the readings and Gospel for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary time.
And from Archbishop Timothy Dolan in New York:
“With all of our friends and neighbors here in the community we love, we in the Catholic family are united in prayer for protection from the impending storm, and eager to offer refuge and help to those who may be endangered or harmed.
Catholics take Sunday mass very seriously, but the Church never asks us to risk our health or safety to get to church on the Lord’s Day. Please be careful! Do not take any chance with your safety and health if things get dangerous.
Our extensive network of parishes, schools, Catholic Charities, health care institutions, and residential facilities are cooperating fully with our public safety officials, and stand ready to assist in all efforts of outreach and help.”
UPDATE: A reader sent along this prayer, for those who may be unable to make it to Mass:
I believe that You
are present in the Most Holy Sacrament.
I love You above all things,
and I desire to receive You into my soul.
Since I cannot at this moment
receive You sacramentally,
come at least spiritually into my heart.
I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You.
Never permit me to be separated from You.