November 17, 2011 – Cardinal Seán Issues A Pastoral Letter On Sunday Mass Participation*

This Sunday, November 20th, the Catholic Church celebrates the Solemnity of Christ the King, the last Sunday in the liturgical year.  As the Archdiocese of Boston concludes the year in which it launched the Catholics Come Home initiative, Cardinal Seán P. O’Malley has issued a Pastoral Letter on Sunday Mass entitled “Jesus’ Eager Desire: Our Participation in the Sunday Mass.”  This follows the Cardinal’s June 2011 Pastoral Letter on Evangelization (“Inviting All to Know Jesus”) and is being published just prior to the Thanksgiving celebration.
In his letter, Cardinal Seán stated, “The Thanksgiving meal of our Catholic family occurs every Sunday,” when we celebrate the Eucharist which literally means Thanksgiving.  He added, “Jesus’ eager desire is to celebrate this thanksgiving meal with every one of us each Sunday.  We pray in many good and helpful ways but none equals the prayer that is the Sunday Mass.  It is the one that Jesus implored us to do in His memory.  As St. Paul wrote to the 1st century Christians of Corinth, “For as often as you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the death of the Lord until He comes.”

Also in the Pastoral Letter, Cardinal Seán shares many insights into the Sunday Mass celebration and writes messages to particular groups within the Church.  

Pastoral letters are a means for bishops to guide those in their dioceses in aspects of Catholic teachings, worship or social concerns.  Bishops have three key responsibilities in the Church: to teach, to sanctify and to govern the diocese to which he is assigned by the Pope.  Issuing Pastoral Letters is one important way a bishop fulfills the teaching aspect of his ministry.  More than any single homily, letter or directive of a bishop, a Pastoral Letter invites the clergy, consecrated religious and laity of the diocese to give prayerful and careful consideration to the content of the letter.  In his 26 years as a Bishop, Cardinal O’Malley has written more than a dozen Pastoral Letters on topics such as the Gospel of life, Evangelization, strengthening marriage, combating racism, remembering Kristallnacht, forming stronger families, and promoting vocations.

The entire Pastoral Letter can be read at  Printable copies of the Pastoral Letter are available in English, Spanish and Portuguese.  It was also published in this week’s Pilot, the official newspaper of the Archdiocese of Boston.

About Cardinal Seán:  Cardinal Seán Patrick O’Malley, O.F.M. Cap., was born June 29, 1944 in Lakewood, Ohio, and was raised in Western Pennsylvania, where he entered a Franciscan seminary.  At 21, he was professed into the Order of Friars Minor Capuchin and at 26 he was ordained a Catholic priest.  After earning a master’s degree in religious education and a Ph.D. in Spanish and Portuguese literature from the Catholic University of America, he taught at Catholic University and founded Centro Católico Hispano (Hispanic Catholic Center) in Washington, DC, an organization which provided educational, medical and legal help to immigrants.

Since his ordination to the episcopacy on August 2, 1984, he has served as the Bishop of the dioceses of St. Thomas in the Virgin Islands; Fall River, Massachusetts; and Palm Beach, Florida.  Pope John Paul II appointed him Archbishop of Boston in July 2003.  Pope Benedict XVI named him a Cardinal in 2006.

About the Archdiocese of Boston: The Diocese of Boston was founded on April 8, 1808 and was elevated to Archdiocese in 1875. Currently serving the needs of nearly 1.8 million Catholics, the Archdiocese of Boston is an ethnically diverse and spiritually enriching faith community consisting of 291 parishes, across 144 cities and towns, educating approximately 46,000 students in its Catholic schools and 156,000 in religious education classes each year, ministering to the needs of 200,000 individuals through its pastoral and social service outreach.   Mass is celebrated in nearly twenty different languages each week. For more information, please visit