So, do I *have* to watch Mass since I can’t go?

A post by Aleteia, Thursday, March 13, 2020

There’s no requirement to watch Mass when the obligation has been dispensed, but yes, the 3rd Commandment still applies!

In light of the suspension of public worship in many places, some Catholics have found themselves asking, “Am I required to watch Mass”? In other words, since it is impossible to get to Mass, is it a sin to not try to attend virtually?

No, it is not required to watch Holy Mass online or on television (or to listen on the radio for that matter). To those who have already expressed their frustration at slow or over-crowded streaming services or inadequately announced worship schedules, you’re in the clear.

Even though many bishops have dispensed us from our Sunday obligation (dispensation is the legal term for the relaxing of our normal practice), we should still, to the best of our ability, keep Sunday holy.

To that end, I recommend the following practices:

DO NOT WORK ON SUNDAY
The temptation, while working from home, will be very great to allow Sunday to be like other days. Fight this with your whole heart. Sunday belongs to the Lord. Do not allow yourself on Sunday to slip into the rhythm of other days.

DO WATCH OR LISTEN TO MASS
No, you do not have to, but it is praiseworthy. If you cannot watch it at the “live” time, watch it later in the day. Many places have made archived video available. If that’s the case, you could watch the Mass after it happens; no need to worry that it’s not a “live” celebration.

READ THE SUNDAY READINGS
It may be the case that in your house, watching Mass is too much like other activities (movies, video games, etc.). I could understand children participating better in a family prayer service. To that end, read the Sunday readings aloud. Perhaps listen to a recorded homily or have a family member give a reflection. Share prayer intentions.

PRAY THE LITURGY OF THE HOURS
The Liturgy of the Hours, also called the Divine Office, is the Church’s rhythm of biblical and monastic prayer. Grounded in the traditions of the first Christians who gathered to recite Psalms and the Our Father, this method of prayer continues unabated. See this article for more on the Liturgy of the Hours.

CHANGE YOUR ROUTINE
Maybe on Sunday you could make a “no TV” rule or have a game night. Go for a walk as a family. Take up another Lenten devotion together, such as praying the Sorrowful Mysteries of the Rosary or the Stations of the Cross.

Keeping Sunday holy means claiming time for God. This is done principally in the formal, official worship of the Church, the Mass. The priest stands in for Christ and offers back to the Father every prayer and heavenly blessing. We can still unite our hearts to the sacrifice of the Mass. We are still called to keep Sunday holy.

This is a time of difficulty, deprivation, and sorrow. It is part of our Lent: heading to the desert to sacrifice and pray as Christ did. Let us ask God to make these days fruitful. His grace will be at work in many quiet and surprising ways! Let us beg the Lord that we don’t miss it!

When we’re depressed or feeling blue, this prayer from Padre Pio is a way to reach out

PADRE PIO STATUE

Aletia: Margaret Rose Realy, Obl.OSB | Jan 10, 2018

If you find yourself in a state of darkness, the key is “to reach.”

The small framed unsigned print reads “Reach up as high as you can today, and God will reach down the rest of the way.” It’s my go-to quote for those times when I feel an emotional darkness—depression—coming on. For many of us this darkness is a familiar not-so-good old friend, the Black Dog mentioned by Sir Winston Churchill—or seasonal affective disorder.The DSM (Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders) has clinical definitions for depression, and there is as well the spiritual darkness that St. John of the Cross writes about in Dark Night of the Soul. However you’ve come to a depressive state, and for whatever history brought you there, the key in both of those dark times is to reach.

The state of darkness and depression is not a void. It is a space filled with insights that we are momentarily blinded to. When we try to go it alone, we are often too wearied to keep from going under, instead succumbing to the waves of hopelessness.

To reach is not an intuitive movement when psychologically and/or spiritually sinking into depression. Even though we’ve been taught that to despair is to turn our backs to God—which is a sin—there is another element to despairing that is sometimes overlooked. It comes from the Rule of St. Benedict, “In all things may God be glorified.”

The Prayer from Padre Pio

In a recent confession, when I was in a season of depression, the priest gave me a very specific penance. I was to read about Jesus walking on stormy seas, and Peter’s fear in Matthew 14:30-31. Then reflect, specifically, on that moment when Peter is desperately reaching out to Our Lord—that second just before Jesus takes his hand.

It was a dark and doubt-filled moment for Peter, whose faith had faltered. It was also an intuitive response to a person physically drowning — reaching out, trying to grasp at anything to save his life.

Assured that the Lord had taken my hand so I will not drown, I often read this prayer, sometimes three times through!

Stay with me, Lord, for it is necessary to have you present so that I do not forget you. You know how easily I abandon you.
Stay with me, Lord, because I am weak, and I need your strength, so that I may not fall so often.
Stay with me, Lord, for you are my life, and without you, I am without fervor.
Stay with me, Lord, for you are my light, and without you, I am in darkness.
Stay with me, Lord, to show me your will.
Stay with me, Lord, so that I hear your voice and follow you.
Stay with me, Lord, for I desire to love you very much, and always be in your company.
Stay with me, Lord, if you wish me to be faithful to you.
Stay with me, Lord, for as poor as my soul is, I want it to be a place of consolation for you, a nest of love. Amen.
~St. Pio of Pietrelcina, Prayer After Communion

Depression is a battle, and for some of us a lifelong cross to bear. In bearing it as best we can while reaching up and out for help, we are led in to a deeper maturity of faith—which like most virtues, is not easily won.

Happy Birthday to the Catholic Church!

And a very special Happy Birthday to you, who are the body of the Church!

We’re all familiar with our own birthdays. We celebrate them because they mark the day of the year in which we entered into this life. But did you know you have a second birthday?

Because you are part of the body of the Church, Pentecost is the Church’s birthday. And it’s yours as well. Like any birthday, it’s a cause for celebration.

Pentecost

The word Pentecost is Greek and it means “50th day.” Fifty days after Easter Sunday, we celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and their followers. It’s also the beginning of their Earthly ministry to make disciples of all nations.

Pentecost is also a Jewish holiday, which the Jews use to celebrate the end of Passover. Jews celebrate the gift of the law to Moses at Mt. Sinai on this day. But we, as Catholics celebrate the birth of our Church.

What Happened On The Day of Pentecost?

At Pentecost, the Apostles and their followers were gathered in a room. Jews from all over the world were gathered with Peter, the leader of the Apostles and the Eleven. At this time, a great wind blew and a flame appeared as a tongue of fire, which split itself into many individual flames above the heads of all those present. The Holy Spirit came upon these people and each began to speak in tongues. Despite the fact many had no common language, they were perfectly able to understand one another.

Others who were not so blessed, accused those speaking in tongues of being drunk, but Peter arose and addressed the crowd, explaining that it was only 9 o’clock, and that this phenomenon was not intoxication, but rather this was the work of the Holy Spirit, prophesized in the scripture.

Peter then called all those present to be baptized and about three thousand people were baptized that day.

The Birth of the Catholic Church!

These people were among the first Catholics, and Peter is the first pope of the Catholic Church.

The symbols of Pentecost are the flame, wind, and the dove, which represents the Holy Spirit. The color of Pentecost is red and the priest wears red vestments on this day. Parishioners are also invited to wear red on this day. Red decorations as well as celebrations are appropriate, similar to any other birthday. Special prayers are often said just for Pentecost.

Things You Should Not Do at Mass (but you might be doing anyhow)

Small Details That Make the Difference and Unite the Church

  • Do not be late. Remember God is waiting for you to fill you with love, to speak to your ear, to tell you what you need to hear, to forgive you. He gave you a special place at his table. Do not keep him waiting.
  • Do not wear inappropriate clothing. Do it for you, and for others.
  • Do not enter the church without greeting the Lord. When you arrive, make the Sign of the Cross. God is there, happy to see you. Thank him for the invitation.
  • Do not be lazy when it comes to bowing or genuflecting. If you walk in front of the altar, which represents Christ, bow. If you pass before the Tabernacle, where Christ is, genuflect.
  • Do not chew gum, eat, or drink during Mass. Only water is allowed if necessary for health reasons.
  • Do not sprawl or slump in the pew. Your body should express your devotion.
  • There is no need to add “extra sentences” to the Readings and the Psalm. That is, do not read the red letters or say “First Reading” or “Responsorial Psalm.”
  • Never recite the Alleluia in advance. Wait a few seconds. Surely someone will sing it. If neither the priest nor anybody sings, omit it, but never recite it.
  • Do not make the Sign of the Cross before the proclamation of the Gospel. Make three small crosses: one on your forehead, one on your lips and the last over your heart, asking the Word of God to be in your mind, on your lips and in your heart.
  • Do not respond in the plural when the Creed is prayed in the form of questions. The presider at Mass may ask: “Do you Believe in God the Father Almighty?” In this case, do not answer “yes, we do,” because faith, although collective, is also personal: you cannot believe “for” someone else. You should simply reply “Yes, I do.”
  • Do not collect the offering during the Universal Prayer. The offering should be collected during the presentation of the gifts, when all are seated and the priest thanks God for the bread and the wine and purifies the hands.
  • Do not sit during the Consecration. If you cannot kneel, consider standing up, but try to leave sitting for times of illness or caring for a child. Your posture during the consecration should reflect your great respect and reverence for the Real Presence of Christ on the altar.
  • There is no need to pray out loud during the Consecration. There are people who, during the Consecration, say the Apostle Thomas’ prayer out loud: “My Lord, My God.” But this can distract those who are making a personal prayer in silence.
  • Do not repeat “Through him, and with him, and in him …” (that is, the Doxology that concludes the Eucharistic Prayer). The only person who should say this is the priest who presides over the Mass.
  • Do not leave your place to go and give peace. You should only greet those who are close to you in the pew. Neither should you use this moment to go congratulate someone or give condolences.
  • If your soul is not prepared with the one hour fast and in the state of grace, do not take Communion.
  • Do not insist on taking Communion from the priest. Jesus is present in the Consecrated Host, regardless whether you receive it from the priest or from an Extraordinary Minister of Holy Communion, who is a person prepared and authorized by the Church to distribute Communion at Mass and to take it to the elderly and sick.
  • After receiving Communion, do not talk to others. Go back to your place and talk to the Lord. If you have not received the Eucharist, make a spiritual communion and talk to Him.
  • Once Communion has been distributed take a moment of sacred silence, in which each person simply dialogues with God.
  • Turn off the phone. Do not message or talk on the cell phone during Mass, as it distracts you and others. Turn your attention to the Lord, who is dedicating His attention to you.
  • Keep your kids in sight, next to you. Teach them to enjoy their time at the Father’s house.
  • Do not leave until the Mass is over. You don’t want to miss the final blessing, through which the priest sends you into the world to bear witness in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. Come out of the church with a new purpose, inspired by the Lord, to build his Kingdom of love.

From Aleteia’s post dated February 25, 2018. This article was originally published in the Portuguese Edition of Aleteia. It’s been translated and adapted for an English-speaking audience.