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March 27, 2020

Worshiping at home on Sundays

Resources From Home

In much of our country, the Church has taken the extraordinary step of asking that Catholics not come to Mass. Pope emeritus Benedict XVI often made reference to the Abitinian Martyrs who famously said that without the Sunday, (i.e. without the Eucharist) we would cease to be. In this time of an aggressive disease, we are so much more fortunate than these early martyrs. They could not keep community alive by any other means. They could not hear nor see the eucharistic celebration unless they were physically present. And there were no missals.

So as parishes close their doors to public celebrations, we should take advantage of the ways we can use our Sunday and daily missals to stay in touch with the Church and with one another. Let me say at the outset: It is important to realize that we are not trying to ‘say Mass without Father’ — not at all.

Normal Sundays

Whether you are using Breaking Bread, Choose Christ Missal, Heritage Missal, Today’s Missal, or even one of the fine products from our competitors, there is so much that you can do to celebrate Sunday at home, with your family or on your own.

  1. Use the missal to participate in the Mass livestreamed from your parish or from somewhere else.
  2. Either before or after this remote celebration, gather in prayer. These can be scary days, and you may not even notice how much stress you are feeling. A time of meditation and prayer with those closest to you, using your familiar missal, can make a big difference in your prayer life. It can also help you in your emotional and spiritual life. If you live with others, make a point of gathering each Sunday. Even setting aside time throughout the week for daily prayer would be a great idea. Our missals contain a form of prayer in the morning and prayer in the evening, designed to easily accommodate a domestic setting. If you live alone, work with other parishioners to create an online community. Recall the story of the Passover — “If a household is too small for a lamb, it along with its nearest neighbor will procure one, and apportion the lamb’s cost in proportion to the number of persons, according to what each household consumes.” (Exodus 12:4) So while we are not physically in the same place, gather as best you can through social media.
  3. What you pray as you gather should grow out of your own spirituality. There are many prayers — even the Stations of the Cross — either on the back cover or inside of your missal. Use these as your devotions. And don’t forget that the Creed is a prayer, an affirmation of faith, as is the Glory to God, and, of course, the Lord’s Prayer. All of these are in your missal. Remember to pray for your pastor and his assistants. As frustrating as it may be for us at home, imagine not being able to carry out your life’s calling, that for which you have been ordained by God. Pray for the whole Church, for the world and for your local community. Remember the sick and those who care for them. We believe that our prayer has an effect on the entire world.
  4. Reread the readings. Last Sunday, Pope Francis encouraged us to read Chapter 9 of John’s Gospel, “The Man Born Blind.” Read aloud to yourself, and share the readings among the members of those who have gathered. This can be a deeply moving experience.
  5. Share what struck you about the readings, or recall what the priest reflected on in his homily, should you have already participated in a remote Mass. The Church teaches that when the Scriptures are read in the liturgy, Christ speaks to each of us — in a particular way. Sharing what we heard through the power of the Holy Spirit can inspire others in their journey. If your missal has only the synopsis of the readings, reach for your Bible. See how the synopsis matches what you heard.
  6. While the blessing prayer at the Mass is not appropriate for laypeople to use, we are always free to bless one another. If you have musicians in your family, sing one of the blessing songs in your missal, like Father Bob Fabing’s “Irish Blessing” or Tom Kendzia’s “May the Road Rise Up.” If you don’t have any singers among your group, then recite the lyrics — they are poetic and quite powerful. You can also find video recordings of these on YouTube. Another way to bless each other is to sing, recite or listen to a song like “Jesus, the Lord” by Roc O’Connor. “Jesus. Jesus. Let all creation bend the knee to the Lord.” Repeated three or four times, I don’t know how else you could be better blessed in these days.
  7. While it is not in person, there is no end to the uses of the section in your missal that deals with the Adoration of the Blessed Sacrament. This is often found in the inside back cover. In the Choose Christ Missal, you will find it on the inside. Reciting or singing some of the songs for Adoration, and using the prayers, you’ll find there’s a way of making a spiritual Communion.
  8. Catholics and many other Christians have a long tradition of praying for those who have died. Many OCP missals include a number of prayers and other texts from the funeral rites. It is our responsibility to pray for those who have died from this terrible virus, and for all the dead who are known to God. One prayer that I would encourage is the “Song of Simeon” — the Nunc Dimittis. This is a great prayer, and we have musical settings of it in many of our missals.

In a subsequent post, I will discuss how to deal with Holy Week, since, in many places, all of the great celebrations of Easter are canceled.