In summer talks from his home chapel, Archbishop Alexander Sample shows joy for Mass, true freedom and priesthood.

The gift of worship

“Why would we need to be bound by an obligation to something so wonderful?”

That was the question Archbishop Alexander Sample asked July 9 during a livestreamed talk from his home chapel. It came as he announced that he was rescinding the pandemic-era dispensation from the obligation to attend Sunday Mass beginning with the weekend of July 15-16.

As a canon lawyer, the archbishop explained that he understands keeping the Lord’s day holy is a commandment of God that creates an obligation. “But let’s not talk about it in those terms,” he said. “Let’s talk about it in terms of the love God has shown us in giving us so great a gift. Christ meets us in the Eucharist.”

Of Mass, he said, “it’s time to return with joy.”

He acknowledged the anguish and suffering of the past 16 months, with deaths, job loss and loneliness. He knows of patients suffering long-term from COVID-19 and realizes there are many exhausted first responders and health care workers.

The church, he said, has suffered, too, from the small local parish to the Vatican. He lauded parish workers and school staff for facing the new challenges so well.

The archbishop is grateful for the unity and patience that local Catholic maintained with few exceptions. He said that following health protocols was appropriate for a pro-life church that is concerned about the health and wellbeing of all. He also explained that the church long has recognized the legitimate authority of civic leaders.

The archbishop admitted he might do a few things differently in hindsight but joked that seminary did not teach anyone how to navigate a global pandemic.

“It’s time to put all of that behind us and move forward together with hope and joy,” the archbishop said, saying he now hopes that more and more people will understand just how amazing the Eucharist is — an encounter with God, who, as St. Peter said, “has the words of eternal life.”

He urged viewers to invite neighbors, friends and family to Mass.

See the entire July 9 Chapel Chat.

Freedom must abide by truth

In his July 2 Chapel Chat, just before the Independence Day weekend, the archbishop reflected on the Christian meaning of freedom. Modern culture, especially in the Pacific Northwest, tends to think of freedom as “anything goes,” with the individual not responsible to any higher authority like natural law.

But one can’t divorce freedom from truth, reality and responsibility, the archbishop said. As an example, he countered the notion that humans can define themselves, including their gender, in contradiction to how God created them.

“This is not rooted in human nature or right reason and certainly not in the mind of God,” he said.

Of all creatures, only humans are made in the likeness of God, with intelligence and free will, the archbishop explained. Only humans can discern virtue, the right and the good.

“To be free means to know the good and choose it,” he said, adding that humans shape their lives by the choices they make. “Human life attains perfection when oriented toward God, our true happiness.”

The more one does good, the archbishop said, the freer one becomes.

See the entire July 2 Chapel Chat.

‘Instrument of Christ’

In his June 25 chapel chat, offered the evening before he ordained Fathers Tony Galati and Randy Hoang, the archbishop reflected on priesthood.

“We need to get beyond what a priest does and talk more about who a priest is,” the archbishop said, just hours after making lunch for the two ordination candidates.

Even priests themselves, he observed, tend to get wrapped up in being great administrators, social workers and scholars instead of focusing on their main identity.

“The priest is the instrument of Christ,” the archbishop said. “Christ ministers in and through the priest.”

Priests do many great things, and some awful things on occasion, said the archbishop. But, he concluded, none of that should obscure the gift of priesthood for the church — making Christ present, offering the sacrifice of Mass and forgiving sins.

See the entire June 25 Chapel Chat.