What we CAN do when we can’t go to Mass: Weekly Message for 03-17-2020

Dear Fellow Digital Pilgrim, pax Christi:

There are many legitimate reasons why we may be exempt from fulfilling our obligation to attend Sunday Mass – for example, health, age, travel, weather, and now, the reality of a viral pandemic.  Gripped by concern for our physical well being, it is certainly cause for “grave reason” that many of us will be unable to participate in the Eucharistic celebration over the next few weeks.  By now the disbelief for many is wearing off, and the reality of the impact of Covid-19 is sinking in.  It is an unsettling disruption, that somehow is part of a bigger plan inviting us to a deeper faith in the conviction that God is in charge. 

In such moments of shared uncertainty and insecurity, it can shed light on what we most value, putting into perspective what we truly desire when we are denied what we may at times take for granted.  

So what can we do to observe the Lord’s day as holy?  What can we do to grow spiritually and build stronger bonds of connection with God and others when we feel physically distanced? 

Let’s take advantage of this opportunity as a renewal for deepening in our understanding and experience of what takes place at each Mass by finding ways to still participate in the liturgy, at least spiritually, if not physically.  

Here are 5 ways we can “go to mass” each day living liturgically the sacrifice of the holy mass in our daily lives:

  1. Making time: Throughout my 20 years of experience as a spiritual director and full-time ministry, the number one reason I hear many of us struggle with our relationship with God is “time” (or lack thereof!).  We can be grateful for the gift of time! We are all invited to put a pause on the hustle and bustle of life to have more time for family, prayer, and reflection.  To observe Sunday as the day of the Lord we need to make time to spend with the Lord in prayer, rest, and avoid all unnecessary work.  You may find one of our Retreat Guides a great way to spend extra time in personal or family prayer.  How will you use this time, this newfound time, wisely?   
  2. Thanksgiving: The liturgy is a celebration of praising, thanking, and rejoicing in the goodness of the Lord and the marvellous ways he loves and provides for us.  Amidst any worries or uncertainties, we have many causes to be grateful. Just the fact of celebrating genuine goodness for how we are universally responding to this crisis to be concerned for life! How can I adjust my attitude to be grateful for the good rather than irritated by the inconvenience?
  3. Listening to the word: with more time we have more opportunity to reflect upon the living word of God. Among the many web and email services available you may find our daily Gospel Reflections a way to listen to the voice of the Lord each day.  How is the Lord speaking to me through his word?  Where can I find time each day to read from the gospel? 
  4. Offering: For most of us, missing Mass will be a rare occasion, but how many people regularly suffer from this reality to be separated from a Church community because they are homebound due to chronic illness, taking care of loved ones, or living away from the faith? Through suffering, we become more acutely aware of what is most important and what we most need. What are my concerns and hopes I need to entrust to the Lord? Who and what intentions could I be offering my day for? 
  5. Loving acts of service and charity: After listening to his word, offering our petitions, and receiving his body, every Mass ends with an exhortation to “go” and extend the graces you have received into building up his Kingdom in the world.  With increased moments of encountering family over the next few weeks, What ways am I called to love those around me with patience, understanding, and kindness?  Who could I be reaching out and checking in with to offer words of encouragement?

Let this be a time for renewing and deepening in our desire for Jesus in his Eucharistic presence.  Forgive us, Lord for all the times we took for granted being able to attend Mass whenever it was convenient or we had the time! 

Each day we can be uniting ourselves with Christ in his Eucharistic presence through a Spiritual Communion.

An Act of Spiritual Communion
My Jesus, I believe that You are present in the Most Holy Sacrament. I love You above all things, and I desire to receive You into my soul. Since I cannot at this moment receive You sacramentally, come at least spiritually into my heart. I embrace You as if You were already there and unite myself wholly to You. Never permit me to be separated from You.

It is our hope and prayer that the many products and services we offer here at RCSpirituality.org will help you remain close to Our Lord and find greater peace and security during these uncertain times. That’s how we help build the Kingdom of Christ, the only Kingdom that will last forever.

Let us be united in seeing the weeks ahead as a providential moment to embrace as a blessing, not an annoyance, as an opportunity to be more united in praying for God’s mercy to care for those affected, their families, those in leadership, and all the healthcare workers on the front lines. 

May God bless you and keep you.

In Christ, 

Lucy Honner

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Retreat Guide on the Eucharist

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