Singapore Archbishop Decrees by Legislation 9th April 2023 Restoring The Solemnity And The Spirit Of The Pope’s ldol Sabbath By Participation In The Sunday Eucharist “To End Calamities” “WE are all Catholics Now, The Church”

Restoring The Solemnity And The Spirit Of The Day Of The Lord By Participation In The Sunday Eucharist

While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. “The earth mourneth and fadeth away,” “the haughty people … do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” Isaiah 24:4, 5. GC 589.3

The Great Controversy Between Christ and Satan by Ellen G White

And then the great deceiver will persuade men that those who serve God are causing these evils. The class that have provoked the displeasure of Heaven will charge all their troubles upon those whose obedience to God’s commandments is a perpetual reproof to transgressors. It will be declared that men are offending God by the violation of the Sunday sabbath; that this sin has brought calamities which will not cease until Sunday observance shall be strictly enforced; and that those who present the claims of the fourth commandment, thus destroying reverence for Sunday, are troublers of the people, preventing their restoration to divine favor and temporal prosperity. Thus the accusation urged of old against the servant of God will be repeated and upon grounds equally well established: “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the Lord, and thou hast followed Baalim.” 1 Kings 18:17, 18. As the wrath of the people shall be excited by false charges, they will pursue a course toward God’s ambassadors very similar to that which apostate Israel pursued toward Elijah. GC 589.3 – GC 590.1

Restoring The Solemnity And The Spirit Of The Day Of The Lord By Participation In The Sunday Eucharist

My dear Rev Monsignors, Fathers, Consecrated Persons, brothers and sisters,

More than three years have passed since the Covid-19 pandemic overturned the routines of our daily lives and put the health of our people at great risk.  To protect our vulnerable parishioners, I took the difficult and drastic step of closing our churches so as to minimize our contributing to the worsening of the outbreak.  Necessarily, the obligation for Catholics to attend Mass on Sunday was also lifted.  Now that society is returning to normalcy with Covid-19 under control and health risks minimalised, it is time that we insist our faithful return to the Sunday Eucharist, to ensure that their communion with God and the Church is strengthened.

The enemy has used the chain of dependence to draw men together. They have united to destroy God’s image in man, to counterwork the gospel by perverting its principles. They are represented in God’s word as being bound in bundles to be burned. Satan is uniting his forces for perdition. The unity of God’s chosen people has been terribly shaken. 6T 241.5

The Sunday Eucharist has always been held in great importance by the Church.  The commemoration of the Lord’s resurrection is a tradition going back to the Apostles and hence called the Lord’s Day.   Celebrating the resurrection of our Lord is the heart of Christian Faith.  It is the basis of our faith in Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God. It is also the answer to the world’s despair and the meaning of life.

For this reason, the Church has legislated that “on Sundays and other holy days of obligation the faithful are bound to participate in the Mass.”  (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No 2180 cf Canon Law 1247.)   It also states that “unless excused for a serious reason (for example, illness, the care of infants, or vulnerable to infectious disease) or given dispensation by their own pastor, those who deliberately fail in this obligation commit a grave sin.”  (CCC 2181, cf Canon Law 1245)  This law is imposed not to make our lives inconvenient but to underscore the grave obligation that active participation in the Sunday Eucharist is vital for Christian life.  We must not reduce Sunday, the Day of the Lord simply to a weekend of rest, shopping, dining, or engaging in cultural and sporting activities.  Church Laws are given more for the weak, and not so much for those who are disciplined in their spiritual life.

Church Laws are also important to strengthen the community and to help them walk together in faith.  That is why we should not merely fulfil the obligation in a perfunctory manner but interiorise the Spirit of the Sunday Obligation. Just “attending Mass” itself would not be the right spirit in fulfilling this obligation. One must participate in the Mass with the intention of giving glory to God, to consecrate the entire day to Him by sharing our life and love with our fellow Catholics and extending the love we receive with those who do not know Christ especially by our works of charity.

However, whilst I see the need to restore the Sunday Obligation to participate in the Eucharist, our local churches are faced with another hurdle – fulfilling our Singapore Civil Defence Force Fire Safety requirements as legislated by the Fire Safety (Amendment) Act 2019 in order to protect our worshippers. Government regulations do not allow overcrowding in places of worship so that our worshippers be kept safe. Simply put, this means the number of people admitted to a hall or room cannot exceed the occupancy limit whether standing or sitting.  If the place of worship is built for 1000 people, only that number are permitted within that church hall.  This also means that most of our churches would be unable to accommodate every worshipper in the church hall for some Masses.

As St John Paul II wrote in Dies Domini“Because the faithful are obliged to attend Mass unless there is a grave impediment, Pastors have the corresponding duty to offer to everyone the real possibility of fulfilling the precept. The provisions of Church law move in this direction.”  (Dies Domini, 49). Indeed, it would not be a just law if the faithful are prevented from attending Mass on Sunday simply because one cannot enter the main church hall.   Therefore, parishes must make the liturgy available to those standing outside the main worship area through live-feeds in classrooms or open spaces – so that all who come may participate actively in the Mass.

I also ask that our lay faithful be understanding and to cooperate with their hospitality ministers, wardens, members of their PEPT volunteers as they are to ensure safety for all.

Parishioners should not only think of their own convenience which may cause danger to others as some Masses are overcrowded and some churches more packed than others.  We pray that there can be a change of mindset and lifestyle, that parishioners attend those Masses that are less crowded or even attend Mass in parishes that have more than ample seats. There have been many instances where parishioners overwhelm a church when another nearby church is only half or three quarters full.

Finally, we should continue to make the online Masses available to the faithful who because of illness or for some serious reason cannot take part in the Sunday Eucharist. Although such participation does not itself fulfil the Sunday Obligation, which requires us to be physically present in the Church and to possibly* receive Holy Communion, it offers much help and consolation to these faithful. It would be ideal if these online Masses are followed by having Extraordinary Ministers of Holy Communion bring the Eucharist to the faithful at home or in hospitals and with it the solidarity of the Christian community.

Taking all this into consideration, I revoke the decree which took effect at 12pm on 15 February 2020 when the obligatory Sunday Mass attendance was dispensed with.  Participation in the Sunday Eucharist or the Vigil Mass on Saturday is once again required to fulfil the Sunday Obligation, which includes keeping the day holy.  This will officially be reinstated on Easter Sunday 9th April 2023.

Yours devotedly in the Lord,

✠ William Cardinal Goh
Archbishop of Singapore
Promulgated on 10th Mar 2023

N.B. *Inserted “to possibly” for clarification 11.03.2023 

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