From a reader…
I am having surgery Tuesday 12/28. I went to reconciliation Wednesday and was absolved. In my medical appointment to get the ok for surgery I was tested for staph infection and it came back positive. My question is can I Fulfill my Christmas obligation and Sunday obligation by viewing mass on live stream as I’m not sure with having a staph infection and the possibility of contacting Covid right before surgery would be in my best interest and also possibly giving someone else staph? Please let me know your thoughts on this as I want to remain in a state of grace in case I don’t make it in surgery.
I am so glad that you made it to confession. Good choice! Now persevere in resisting any occasions of sin and overcome.
It is a good thing to view Mass online and there are good options, especially for the TLM, well-done in lovely churches (and even daily in small private chapels). However, watching Mass over the internet or some other means does not fulfill Mass obligation on days of precept.
In a situation such as yours, with the risk of spreading a staph infection or getting COVID, etc., you don’t have an obligation for Christmas and Sunday.
People are not bound to do what they can’t do. For example, an old lady who is afraid of falling doesn’t have the obligation to attempt her ice-covered sidewalks and then try to get into church. For example, you have a high fever and feel very weak, and you may be contagious. For example, you are on the road all day, since before dawn, and have no idea where to go for Mass (though internet helps now) and it is now late in the day. For example, a guy is getting ready to go to Mass and discovers that his garage is on fire. For example, the local parishes have liturgical worship that is so offensively riddled with abuses and the preaching is so bad that a father of children doesn’t want to expose his family to it, alternatives being too far away.
That said, you might [NB: MIGHT… MIGHT!!!] contact your local pastor and ask him to dispense you from the Sunday obligation. According to the Code of Canon Law for the Latin Church in canon 1245, pastors of parishes have the ability to dispense your obligation in individual instances or commute your obligation to some other pious work (e.g., saying the Rosary, reading Scripture for a while – both of which can bring indulgences).
You can’t just assume that you have the dispensation or commutation. You have to receive it. [NOT in the sense that you are obliged to seek a dispensation every time your garage burns or you get the collywobbles. It’s just that we cannot assume we have been dispensed. Getting sick isn’t a dispensation! Your garage burning or it snowing 5 feet are not dispensations! Those are attenuating circumstances that make your obligation nil, because “no one is bound to the impossible. There IS NO OBLIGATION in those circumstances. That said, a dispensation can remove all doubt about your circumstances and obligations.] But such a dispensation should not be too hard to obtain.
You didn’t say what sort of surgery this is, or how serious your condition is, but I am confident that those reading this will stop as soon as this sentence has been scanned and will say a prayer for you:
Almighty God, protect your servant in this hour of anxiety and need.
Holy Mary, comfort of the afflicted, pray for us.
St. Joseph, hope of the sick, pray for us.
St. Luke, pray for us.
Sts. Cosmas and Damian, pray for us.
St. Rene Groupil, pray for us.
St. Gianna Beretta Molla, pray for us.